Amazon Australia customers can now collect their parcels from banks, newsagents and shopping centres as the retail giant aims to grab an even larger slice of the local market by offering greater convenience.
The online behemoth launched its eight-year-old Amazon Hub service in Australia on Wednesday, allowing customers to have their parcels sent to automated lockers or participating businesses rather than to home or work.
Amazon has initially launched the service in NSW and Victoria – installing lockers at Commonwealth Bank branches and Stockland shopping centres, and enabling pick-up via the Victorian Association for Newsagents – but eventually plans to roll out the service with more businesses in metro and rural areas nationwide.
Patrick Supanc, Amazon’s director of delivery technology, says there are a range of reasons customers might prefer to collect a parcel rather than have it delivered.
“They may be travelling, they may prefer delivery closer to their work, they may live in a high-rise building where delivery is not possible, they may have a package that they don’t necessarily want their spouse to see delivered to the house,” Mr Supanc told AAP.
Customers opting to use Amazon Hub are sent a barcode that either opens one of the lockers at a CBA branch or Stockland shopping centre, or is scanned at the newsagent counter.
Mr Supanc said it takes just 5-10 seconds for a customer to collect a parcel from one of the automated lockers, while partnering with businesses offers a way to connect with customers through existing, familiar infrastructure.
The lockers have been operating in the US since 2011 and Amazon says the counter service has driven strong customer engagement and additional foot traffic for stores since it was launched in Europe this year.
It plans hundreds more Australian locations “soon”.
With the future of branches questioned as customers increasingly choose to do banking online, additional foot traffic could help make them more relevant to the major banks – both by attracting potential customers and strengthening bonds with those they already have.
CBA has initially installed the 24/7 lockers at 10 Sydney branches, with Stockland participating in locations including Sydney, Nowra and Shellharbour in NSW, and Melbourne and Wendouree in Victoria.
“Commonwealth Bank has the largest branch network in Australia and we’re thrilled to work with Amazon to deliver innovative technology-led solutions to our customers that help make their lives easier,” Commonwealth Bank retail boss Angus Sullivan said.
The service could also address one of the major difficulties associated with online retail.
Research cited last week by Commonwealth Bank suggests an estimated 23 to 25 per cent of online deliveries fail on the first attempt because no one is home to receive them.
The CommBank Retail Insights report, which was produced independently of the Amazon deal, also said customers are increasingly prioritising free delivery and convenience over delivery speed when choosing where to shop
Smart lockers were among the innovations customers cited as those they would be happy to use, with drone delivery among the others.