November 8, 2012, 12:31 PM

Staples lets Amazon use stores as package pickup points

The office supplies merchant says it’s testing Amazon Lockers.

Lead Photo

A previous view of Amazon Lockers storage units.

Amazon.com Inc. over the last year has worked with bricks-and-mortar retailers to install lockers in stores and other locations where consumers can pick up their Amazon.com orders. Now Staples Inc. has begun to test Amazon Lockers in some of its stores.

A spokesman for the office supplies chain today confirmed the test but declined to say more. A search today of Amazon.com for locker locations listed eight Staples stores with Amazon Lockers: one in San Francisco, two in Los Angeles and five in New York City. Searches in other areas of the United States already known to have Amazon Lockers—Seattle, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.—did not display any Staples locations. Staples operated 1,917 stores in North America at the close of fiscal 2011, which was in January 2012.

Amazon.com did not respond to inquiries.

The searches also returned 12 RadioShack locations in the San Francisco metro area as having Amazon Lockers. It is unclear when RadioShack Corp. began testing Amazon Lockers. A RadioShack spokeswoman says the retailer believes what it offers by way of convenience, location and selection complements what Amazon customers seek. As of March 31, RadioShack operated more than 4,400 stores in the United States.

What’s notable about the addition of Amazon Lockers to Staples and RadioShack retail stores is that these retailers also sell some of the same products that Amazon.com does, making them competitors in some sales categories. Amazon.com is No. 1 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide. Staples is No. 2 and RadioShack is No. 275. Up until the addition of Staples and RadioShack, Amazon Lockers locations were primarily located in convenience stores such as those operated by 7-Eleven Inc., drug stores and grocery stores, which fulfill shopping needs less likely to be served by Amazon at this time.  

Staples recently announced that it would close 15 more North American stores by the end of the year—bringing its 2012 total North American closures to 30—and increase its investments in the web as part of a company-wide restructuring plan. Staples says it will reduce its North American retail store square footage by 15% by the end of fiscal 2015.

Consumers shopping on Amazon.com can choose during the online checkout process to have items within weight and dimensional restrictions (less than 10 pounds, and smaller than 11.8 x 11.8 x 11.8 inches) shipped to an Amazon Locker location. When a package arrives, it is kept in one of about 40 lockers in an electronically controlled storage unit provided by Amazon in a retail store.

After choosing delivery to an Amazon Locker location, a consumer receives an e-mail confirmation from Amazon with a code number. The consumer enters the code into an electronic screen on the Amazon Locker storage unit to open the locker containing her order. A consumer has three days to retrieve a package delivered to a locker before it is returned to Amazon.

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