New York — Amazon.com has taken online fulfillment to the next level.
The No. 1 e-tailer has begun providing one- or two-hour deliveries of over 25,000 items to Prime-tier customers in Manhattan.
The deliveries, made by bicycle messengers, are limited to certain sections of the borough and to select “daily essential” categories including paper towels, shampoo, books, toys, batteries, and, according to the promotional video below, CE.
Dubbed “Prime Now,” the service is available starting today from 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Deliveries will be made within two hours at no charge to Prime members, while one-hour deliveries are available for $7.99.
The operation is based out of Amazon’s new building on West 34th Street near Macy’s Herald Square, a section of which serves as a hub for delivery of Prime Now orders.
The narrow delivery window is seen as another assault on brick-and-mortar retail, one of whose main advantages has been the immediacy of purchase. Amazon has been feverishly building out its nationwide base of high-tech distribution centers, even at the cost of losing its online tax advantage, in pursuit of ever shorter fulfillment times, and already offers same-day deliveries in more than a dozen major metro areas.
Amazon is not the first to offer rapid deliveries of online orders in Manhattan. J&R Music & Computer World also employed messengers in a failed pilot program, and more recently local IT and A/V dealer DataVision began offering free same-day delivery throughout the five boroughs for more than 40,000 items earlier this year.
“There are times when you can’t make it to the store and other times when you simply don’t want to go,” said Amazon’s worldwide operations VP Dave Clark. “There are so many reasons to skip the trip, and now Prime members in Manhattan can get the items they need delivered in an hour or less.”
Clark said the company will roll the service out to additional cities next year. In the meantime, Manhattanites can download a Prime Now app that will notify them when it becomes available in their part of town.