In a major city and can’t wait the one hour it’s going to take for Amazon to send over the stuff they keep on hand in warehouses? Pretty soon, you’ll be able to drive down and get your stuff in minutes. If that seems to not be in keeping with the spirit of staying inside forever, you’re right — Amazon is being choosy about where they open their planned Instant Pickup locations.
While Amazon has offered same-day pickup in the past, these Instant Pickup locations will be even more immediate — and more limited. After customers place an order using Instant Pickup, someone at the Amazon location will head back into the stockroom and leave the items in a locker, which are similar to the Amazon pickup lockers you might have seen appear in convenience stores around the country. That’ll happen within minutes of an order being placed, making it the fastest option yet for an Amazon order. In practice, it’ll be like using a vending machine, except the menu is on your phone and you can make an order from anywhere.
In practice, what Instant Pickup will be (at least at the outset) is a replacement for student stores. The first five locations will all be at universities, with the University of California Berkeley being one of them (other locations can be found in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Columbus, and College Park, Maryland). They’ll stock commonly purchased items like school supplies, snacks, drinks, and cheap electronics that can be stored in bulk easily. To order any of those items using Instant Pickup, customers must be Amazon Prime or Prime Student subscribers.
There’s a good chance this could be used for textbooks, too, although that might be a bit more of a stretch — college students live on buying used books from Amazon or elsewhere, and it’s not clear that Amazon could standardize stocking used items in the same way they’re stocking the inventory they’ve already mentioned.