Starting Monday, Amazon Prime members in all of Manhattan can take advantage of the e-commerce company’s much-hyped one-hour delivery, which was previous available only to residents of one NYC zip code. Amazon has been talking about rapid delivery by drone since December 2013, but stricter Federal Aviation Administration regulations have foiled those plans for now–and after Amazon’s recent failures in diapers and smartphones, we’re not yet eager to see Amazon-branded robots flying around big cities.
For its new one-hour delivery in Manhattan, Amazon will instead use an army of bike couriers–which means the company’s on-time reputation will depend on an entirely new infrastructure. That is, entirely new for Amazon: New York City has had bike courier delivery almost since bicycles were invented, with Western Union telegraph boys zipping around the city delivering telegrams as far back as the 1890s. Amazon has been setting itself up for today’s launch for some time. The company rented an office/warehouse space on 34th Street last year that allows it to control its own supply line on a scale just big enough for Manhattan.
The one-hour Prime Now delivery is available only to Prime members, a limit that makes sense: Prime membership is where Amazon makes the big money. Prime members spend almost twice as much money annually on Amazon than non-Prime members, Quartz reports, and with each Prime Now order costing $8 per delivery, Amazon is set to rake in more cash while providing yet another service to boost the value of Prime membership.
After recent product flops, Amazon needs a win, and rapid delivery within a small geographic area is a domain in which the company is well prepared for success. While backing down from its diaper market invasion is just a small setback in Amazon’s global domination, the failure of the Fire Phone has forced the company to take a hard look at how it operates. Read our February 2015 cover story to learn more about what the Fire Phone debacle means for CEO Jeff Bezos.
[via Engadget ]