Santa has his reindeer, and now Amazon has its bike messengers.
Today the e-commerce giant unveiled Prime Now, a one-hour delivery option for Prime members located in select areas of Manhattan. For $7.99 (on top of the $99 Prime customers pay each year for membership), shoppers can have essentials like shampoo and batteries dropped off at their doorstep within one hour of purchase. Within a two-hour window, delivery is free.
For weeks Amazon has been testing fast-paced delivery via bike messenger out of the hybrid office-cum-warehouse space it leased on West 34th Street earlier this year. Analysts view the company’s strategy around near-immediate delivery as a way to compete with brick-and-mortar retailers while fending off other companies experimenting with same-day delivery, such as eBay. Moreover, the offering may convince additional shoppers to become Prime members–the company’s most lucrative customer category. Analysts estimate that Prime members represent just 13% of Amazon’s customers, but 50% of gross merchandising volumes.
Amazon has chosen densely populated Manhattan to debut Prime Now, but additional coverage areas are set to launch in the new year. “We cannot wait to roll out Prime Now to additional cities in 2015,” Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations, said in a statement.
CEO Jeff Bezos, it would seem, is one step closer to “eliminating the human factor from shopping” and allowing us to “finally be all alone with our purchases,” as George Packer wrote in the New Yorker.