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Amazon may be an online shopping powerhouse, but it increasingly wants what's left of your local strip mall, too.
First, the e-commerce giant acquired Whole Foods. Then it launched Amazon Fresh stores in empty grocery storefronts. Now, it's upping its brick-and-mortar game once more by partnering with retail stores such as Pac Sun and Sur La Table to offer Prime members same-day delivery of their products.
Partners in Prime
In theory, the program -- launched Monday in 10 different cities including Chicago, Atlanta, and Seattle -- will benefit all parties involved. For Superdry, Diesel, GNC, and other retailers, it's a way to juice sales while off-loading the delivery logistics to the more-than-equipped Amazon (same-day pick-up will also be available at some locations). For Amazon, it's a way to wriggle into the love affair between consumers and their favorite retail brands -- while keeping Prime users hooked on their $139 annual memberships, of course.
Perhaps most crucially for Amazon, it's another win in the instant-demand economy – and yet another challenge for the rapidly evolving same-day delivery ground game of established big box retailers like Walmart and Target, as well as upstart courier services like DoorDash and Postmates:
- In May, Amazon began testing a service with its vast fleet of contracted Flex drivers to pick up and deliver goods from mall-based retail stores. Flex drivers will be used in the new initiative, delivering goods fulfilled from retail stores' inventories.
- Orders that are placed before noon will be delivered before 9 p.m., Amazon says on its website, with free delivery for any order over $25 and a $2.99 delivery fee for orders made below the threshold.
Retail Replacements: The new program will effectively fold countless mall employees into the Amazon logistical machine. It's a clever way of fortifying their employee ranks without adding to payroll, which is shrinking -- last quarter, Amazon laid off a staggering 100,000 employees. Even more staggering: that figure accounts for just 6% of its total workforce. Management cited planned readjustments after intentionally overstaffing amid the contagious omicron variant era.
Big Footprints to Fill: Everybody wins in the new mall initiative, with the possible exception of the planet. More same-day deliveries means more delivery cars on the road. And more delivery cars on the road means generating more and more greenhouse gasses. Amazon, which pledges to be carbon neutral by 2040, also announced Monday that its carbon emissions increased 18% in 2021, and was up 40% since its first such report in 2019. Next time you need toilet paper, consider walking to the corner store.