Amazon, Best Buy Tout Expanded Pickup Options

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Amazon and Best Buy are both touting their expanded network of alternate pickup locations to deal with the holiday crush ahead of Black Friday, giving shoppers more options for getting their stuff fast.

Amazon said it has Hub locations available in more than 900 cities and towns for shoppers to pick up their orders. They are a combination of self-serve and manned lockers as well as Amazon 4 Star and Amazon bookstores, and manned pickup counters in Rite Aid and Health Mart pharmacies and GNC stores, among others.

Prime members can use the Hub option at no additional cost for same-day, one-day and two-day shipping, while it’s free for non-Prime shoppers for orders over $25, without the service-level guarantee.

Best Buy meanwhile is testing out drive-through pickup outside a store warehouse in its hometown of Minneapolis. The store is one of four redesigns in the Minneapolis area where the square footage of selling space has been shrunk from 27,000 to 15,000 to facilitate the handling of more ecommerce orders, including pickup and ship from store.

“This is about a market working together to serve customers in the most effective way possible,” Best Buy CEO Corie Barrie said on the company’s earnings call Tuesday, about the new drive-up pilot. “And so, this is the very first foray into fulfillment stores like this. We will continue to try additional formats and additional ways that we will approach the market as we head into next year.”

In addition, Best Buy has 16,000 pickup locations at UPS stores, CVS, Michaels, Advance Auto Parts and local retailers. The company said 85% of the population is within five miles of a pickup location.

In September, Best Buy launched a hub fulfillment model in which 250 stores were designated to handle a significant volume of ship-from-store orders, based on available space, proximity to carrier partners and ability to support same- and next-day delivery. “Over time, this should allow us to deliver a more productive fulfillment model,” Barrie said.

Alternate pickup has been gaining momentum, with both UPS and FedEx busy expanding their networks of locations for both order pickup and returns, as companies look to increase shopper convenience while also building up delivery density to gain efficiency.

In the home improvement category, Lowe’s is chasing the more established Home Depot with store lockers for online order pickup, planning to expand it chain-wide in 2021.

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