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Why Amazon’s New In-Store Pickup Service Is a Potential Boon for Brick-and-Mortar

Amazon has debuted its new in-store pickup service to American shoppers.

The service, dubbed Counter, was first introduced in the United Kingdom with fashion retailer Next and in Italy with Giunti Al Punto Librerie, Fermopoint and SisalPay locations. Today, the e-commerce behemoth announced its rollout across the United States, starting with more than 100 Rite Aid stores.

The drugstore chain partnered with Amazon to provide the service in as many as 1,500 locations by the end of the year. Customers who buy items on the e-tail site will be able to select their local or most convenient stores as the delivery location. Amazon shoppers can then provide the emailed confirmation barcodes to the store’s staff members, who will scan and retrieve their packages. (Customers have 14 days to collect their parcels.)

“Amazon is always looking for innovative and convenient ways for customers to ship and receive their orders,” said Patrick Supanc, worldwide director of Amazon Hub. “With Counter, we’ve leveraged our growing logistics network and invested in new, easy-to-use technology to give customers yet another delivery option rooted in flexibility and control.”

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As physical retail undergoes significant disruption in the digital age — much of which has been attributed to Amazon — the e-commerce giant’s latest move shows it is using its own resources to boost brick-and-mortar stalwarts. In April, the company inked a deal with Kohl’s, which will allow customers to make returns without additional fees at the department stores’ outposts, starting this summer.

The move effectively benefits both retailers: While Amazon is able to offer speedier and more convenient options for its customers, shoppers may be persuaded to make incremental purchases upon picking up or returning their packages, simply because they’re already in stores.

According to Amazon, Counter has already received positive reviews in the European launch, driving strong customer engagement and boosting foot traffic in partner stores. (It is actively looking to team up with more retailers, including small to midsize businesses and other large chains.)

“Creating a seamless, convenient customer experience is a key element of our strategy and digital transformation,” said Jocelyn Konrad, EVP of pharmacy and retail operations at Rite Aid. “Being the first store partner for Counter in the U.S. is a differentiator for Rite Aid, and we believe our partnership with Amazon — that includes Locker — creates a stronger in-store experience for existing customers and new customers that come in to pick up their packages.”

The Seattle-based firm currently offers shipping options, including its in-car and in-garage couriers and will kick off drone deliveries this year. As part of the Amazon Hub family, Counter marks Amazon’s latest move to lure shoppers into stores amid a decline in traditional brick-and-mortar shopping.

The retailer has been looking to bring its logistics and shipping in-house, scaling back the use of carrier partners like FedEx and UPS to deliver its packages. Amazon continues to heavily invest in its own cargo and truck fleets, as well as other infrastructure that supports its Prime program, which recently switched its two-day delivery to just one day for members.

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