Amazon has launched a new click & collect service and is looking to partner with independent convenience shops to build a national network of collection points.
Amazon Counter will run in direct competition with PayPoint’s Collect- Plus, OttoGroup’s My- Hermes, DHL’s PassMyParcel and UPS’ Access Point click & collect services.
Patrick Supanc, the director for lockers and pickup at Amazon, told RN: “Our goal is to create a network that is ultra-convenient for customers.
“We would like them to have the chance to walk or drive just a few minutes to collect a parcel. We’ll be rolling it out across the UK, so there will be opportunities for local shops.”
To ensure customers are no more than three miles away from an Amazon Counter would require a network of approximately 11,500 sites.
Unlike rival services, Amazon does not plan on paying commission to retailers, instead relying on footfall and simpler procedures to win retailers round.
Instead of a terminal or scanner, Amazon Counter only uses an app on store staff members’ phones to process parcels.
Supanc claimed the new service enables store owners to “offer an additional service to their customers or the opportunity to meet new customers, to have a positive experience and to introduce them to their services and goods they offer to store”.
Asked about the commissions paid to retailers, the director refused to discuss commercial terms. However, pressed by RN to confirm if the company would be offering any commission for the service provided by store owners, he refused. Instead, Supanc said the discussed footfall increase would form “the basis for our relationship with our partners”.
Store owners had mixed opinions. London store owner Manpreet Singh Bawa said: “I believe it will help retailers.”
However, Natalie Lightfoot, of Londis Solo Convenience in Glasgow, was unconvinced. “We have invested in our brick-and-mortar businesses,” she said. “Why do the online companies think they are doing us a favour?”
Samantha Coldbeck, owner of Wharfedale Premier in Hull, agreed. “We rarely have customers buying additional goods when they pick up or drop off parcels, but we make enough commission to justify the costs. Increasing footfall is a ridiculous reason to take on parcel services,” she said.
MyHermes and Post Office-partnered stores already provide a click & collect service for Amazon customers. Asked about these partnerships, Supanc said: “We’re going to continue to work with our third-party click & collect partners.”
RN understands Amazon has held meetings with convenience trade bodies including the NFRN to discuss the service’s value to their members.
Want more news from this week? Find out how Labour has pledged to support small shops on crime