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back to article Amazon solves wait-at-home-for-deliveries problem

Amazon is planning to roll out digital lockers in the UK, so people with busy schedules can go to pick up their online purchases instead of taking the day off work to wait for the postman. The first of these 'click-and-collect' points will be at the One New Change shopping centre in London, Retail Week reported. Apparently the …

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defeats the purpose...

...of onliine shopping? Maybe I'm unique, but my take on online shopping is it's generally cheaper, and (if you buy from a half decent merchant - Amazon are half decent) you know you have the availability. It's a right pain in the arse going to a shop to find they don't have what you want.

Personally (I work in mail order/ecommerce) this sounds great. It's certainly got more legs than that daft idea of secure boxes outside peoples' homes.

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WTF?

Daft idea of secure boxes?

Why is it daft? It works like a dream for me.

But I think Amazon's idea is excellent.

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Coz its in stock

It wouldn't be the first time I've stood in Sports Direct ordering things from their website because they don't have the right size in stock.

Or coz it is faster than waiting to get served sometimes :-)

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Pint

@ D&C

You must be a 34 inch waist like me then.

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Boxes/lockers are overkill; system exists since years in Benelux.

Since many years you can get such "delivery to convenient points" in Belgium and Holland, typically for Amazon-like deliveries (no Amazon.be or .nl --> Bol.com and similar local competitors). They give you a list of possible delivery points nearby: gas station shops (often 24/7), convenience stores, newsagents, ... . There's no need for lockers, except if you've become hyperallergic to human contact -- the shopkeeper has it in the back with other stuff not on display; it's as secure as any other mail in transit and as long as you don't countersign you can prove you haven't received anything (safer than leaving on doorsteps or handing it to neighbours).

A few years ago it was in the order of 2000-3000 options, sufficiently dense in the urban and suburban regions. In the end no different from picking up your specially-ordered mags at the newsagents, saving a needless trip to the PO queue on the one post-17h-opening eve, especially if your employer has a problem with using their offices for private deliveries.

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Anonymous Coward

Very limited appeal

I guess most people can get their stuff delivered to work - so I assume this is pretty much only useful for sole traders who are out on the road most of the time with no family?

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not so limited

Although I can get my stuff delivered to home, it almost always seems to arrive when my wife is taking or collecting the children to or from school.

It is clearly not going to work for all, but there is a pretty big niche here I think.

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FAIL

Very limited imagination ...

how about a "feature" whereby someone gets a digital locker key for their birthday/Xmas, and have the fun of the visit to find out what there goodies are. I bet there are people that would pay *extra* for that ... of course you wouldn't call it customer collection, you'd call it the "Surprise Experience"

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FAIL

Hmmm....pretty old-fashioned attitudes there

"...useful for sole traders who are out on the road most of the time with no family..."

What if both spouses work?

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Depends on where you work

I very rarely arrange for anything to be delivered to my work address. In very large companies (such as the one I work for), things can very easily get lost between the mailroom and your desk. In fact, this has happened today with a router we've ordered that's been delivered to the company but hasn't found its way to our department.

Home delivery is equally a nightmare, especially when Parcelfarce don't put a card through the door to say that they've attempted a delivery - this happened to me on Monday.

I'd much prefer online purchases to be delivered to secure drop-boxes such as these, so that I can pick them up after work or at weekends.

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Re: Very limited appeal

This'd be great in Canary Wharf, since they generally don't allow personal deliveries due to the thousands of people in each building, and when people will only deliver between 9am-5pm I'm always at work so need to collect from the sorting office/depot everytime.

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Happy

@Depends on where you work

"a router we've ordered that's been delivered to the company but hasn't found its way to our department"

Check with the BOFH in Mission Control (just do it very *very* carefully...!)

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Happy

You guess wrong

As my username suggests, I work in a big building with Amazon written on the side. Can I get stuff delivered to my work? Hell no. Around Christmas we'll have a couple of thousand staff on site- can you imagine the chaos if 10% of us got our Christmas shopping delivered?

This idea is great- hoping Tesco get involved as a locker location. It'd be a godsend to shift workers.

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Coat

VERY limited appeal

"...only useful for sole traders..."

What about other fishmongers?

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Pint

Deliveries at work

I also worked for a large company (some 2500 employees at this branch) and they actually allowed personal deliveries until some cheeky twat had a set of tyres delivered. The mail room staff were rightfully fucked off and that was the end of that.

This is a nice idea.

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Optional yyyeeeeooooooo

When I worked for a software company that got took over by a large blue corporation, I continued to get parts for the car I was restoring delivered to work, including an exhaust and a door (which someone signed for but I had to return as DHL managed to dent every corner of it) .

Much raised eyebrows from the 'takeover integration team' corporate management, but the local management thought nothing of it.

Deliveries to work are much better than the likes of HDNL/DHL throwing your parcels over the 6 foot fence / into a recycling bin on recycling day.

I've noticed the local Mace (convenience store chain) have a feature called Collect+ where you can send and receive parcels from the shop!

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Is it just me, or is this win-win

... I can see the big supermarkets actually signing up for this. You get to collect you goods when you want. Amazon get to practically eliminate shipping costs, and the supermarkets get a boost in footfall - especially if they can connect the cost of the locker, to a customer with a spend over £10 (similar to car-parking in some supermarkets today).

It's actually quite green, if the journey to collect the goodies, is a journey that the customer would have undertaken anyway.

I have been a big fan of Amazon since the 1990s ... they just keep doing things right,.

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Stop

Amazon doing things right

I broadly agree, aside from the Kindle, which is about as wrong as it can get (from a consumer standpoint). It locks in users, restricts their choice of content, publishers, and prices to only those that Amazon sell.

Think iTunes for books, and that is bad, especially since there are some excellent EPUB readers out there not getting a look-in due to Amazons loss-leader marketing, where they sell the hardware at a loss, and then rape you forever more over ebook pricing.

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One word

Calibre.

Amazon *books* are DRMd and locked down. But the Kindle will quite happily display other formats.

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kindle

I have one, I love it.. the hardware is excellent, I agree with you in regards to EPUB support; shouldn't be missing! :(

As for ebook pricing, several of my colleagues are based in the UK but come from other places such as sweden.. and the ones that haven't gone over to reading their books in english yet seem pretty happy with buying their books from back home in mobi format (or converting into mobi for some of the smaller e-bookshops). Amazon might have a stranglehold on 'their' bookshop, but it is trivial to get books from outside the amazon ecosystem onto the kindle :)

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Anonymous Coward

Not 100% True

While it's true that the kindle locks you in to using the .mobi format, it does not mean that you are locked into only buying books from Amazon. There are a number of ebook resellers that sell books in the .mobi format. fictionwise.com being one.

There are also a number of free programs that will convert DRM free epub books to the .mobi format such as calbre.

What amazon have done though is make it simpler to buy books on amazon and have them pushed directly to your Kindle effectivly encouraging you to buy from them. It is down to you whether it is worth the hassle of buying from someone else and having to manually transfer the purchase to your Kindle for the cost saving.

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Anonymous Coward

re: ...they just keep doing things right

Yeah, till they picked HDNL for deliveries. All downhill from there.

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Go

mobi on Kindle

You don't have to use the kindle store to get books on the kindle. You can put books on the device through the usb cable or for the cable phobic you can browse the web on the device and download from any store that provides mobi. I use o'reilly for my technical books. If you have an account with them you can go to oreilly.com/e log in and get your books straight on the device. Then later get the pdf version on your computer, or the epub on your android etc

With the 50% off deals they keep sending me and how easy it is to buy it gets addicting... So far I have been clean for a week

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Gimp

Not strictly true.

Although locked into the Amazon store for online purchases (which I agree is a bit too Apple for my liking) .MOBI and .EPUB files can be converted using tools like Calibre and work perfectly. She's found that the Amazon store prices are very competitive and hasn't found any author that hasn't been available yet. I think that Amazon are doing a great job in raising awareness of ebook readers that people otherwise would never have considered looking into.

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Stop

e-book pricing

in the UK is dictated by the PUBLISHER, not the retailer. I queried Amazon a while back, about an e-book that was £2 *more* than the dead tree version (plus VAT). I had a well worded reply which basically said "we'd love to sell it at a more competive price, and agree the e-version should be cheaper than the physical copy. Unfortunately prices are set by the publishers under the Retail Book Pricing agreement. If you continue to feel strongly, may we suggest you contact them" (I paraphrase).

So direct your ire at the right people ....

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FAIL

I presume you haven't actually used a kindle then? It no more restricts you to amazon than the ipod/iphone restricts you to Itunes. It's there, and it's handy, but there's no reason why you can't put books from other sources on it.

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Post Office

Surely the Post Office would be ideally suited for this? (Given they do it anyway for Royal Mail/ParcelForce delivered items). Probably too modern for them to consider.

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But

most of the post offices I have been to either shut early, have 1 person working at any one time, or are now closed.

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Great idea!

It would be fantastic if these things could be put into local post offices. I'd even pay a small charge if it meant I'd never again have to play the will-they? won't-they? waiting game with HDNL.

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Anonymous Coward

more or less and its called - Poste restante

http://www2.postoffice.co.uk/letters-parcels/receiving-letters-parcels/redirection-options/poste-restante

they also have "local collect" - http://www2.postoffice.co.uk/letters-parcels/receiving-letters-parcels/royal-mail-local-collect

Not so clever or cheap(?) as the one-time PO Box idea but still an option.

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Unhappy

Hmm

I think the lockers would need to be located in (open) shops and other businesses to avoid theft and vandalism. As my local post office at least tends to be shut most of the time, it's less than ideal for this.

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no thank you

the only thing I love more than the reliability of royal mail are their extended opening hours.

Please put these boxes or whatever they are somewhere where we can go and pick stuff up outside the hours of 9-17:30.

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Stop

Post Office????

That would be the place that's only open while you're at work, closed on Sundays and Saturday afternoons. Run by the organisation that closes more of its outlets every year. No thanks.

Supermarkets sound like a good location, especially those that are open 24 hours.

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Anonymous Coward

<Title>

If only the Post Office had any sort of imagination they wouldn't be in the hole they are now.

For example if a parcel is delivered to my house that requires a signature and I'm not in, generally means a trip to the distribution office across town. Not to the Post Office at the top of my road. Madness.

But then again I've given up on the Post Office, as no matter how many times you tell them, the postman just cant be arsed to deliver my post through my door as presumably there are too many stairs and so delivers it to the flats above instead.

The whole organisation is crap, it either needs to be properly overhauled or scrapped. Don't care which.

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Post offices keep closing

Not many post offices around anymore and the buggers are useless at being open outside of working hours. Their depots are ok though, at least I can dive into my nearest one early in the morning to collect a parcel while on my way to work. I actually do pay more and specify the Royal Mail over say Citylink, because their depots are always in the roughest parts of town, miles away from anywhere. Fine when they deliver and you are there, totally crap otherwise though.

This Amazon idea is a great one. I work for a bloody living and can't hang around the house during working hours and getting stuff delivered to the office can be tricky. If they set up these collection points, say in the big supermarket opposite where I work, I can nip there during my lunch break and collect my parcel. Or heck, any location that is on my commute back home will do. Win-Win for both Amazon and myself. For those of us who work and don't have a stay at home/wife/partner/porter etc, these delivery companies make the whole online buying experience more of a hassle than it needs to be.

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Anonymous Coward

The trouble with the Post Office ...

... is that, like most of the customers for this service, they keep to regular office hours...

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Anonymous Coward

CityLink? They are the pits

Yet more and more companies are using them.

My nearest CityLink depot is 20miles away. The cost of going to get the frigging parcel makes a mockery of buying stuff over the internet rather than at a realt shop.

Don't say, 'Get it delivered to your place of work'. Sorry not allowed. Security plus Healf and Safety.

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Anonymous Coward

Post Orifice

Anyone tried to send a parcel by post office?

Try and find the nearest one near your office that hasn't been closed and actually allows parking (your parcel is in the boot).

Struggle to the back of a busy supermarket with said parcel.

Wait in queue while a gaggle of pensioners order single stamps or use the cashier to get money out of their accounts, because they don't like using ATMs. And have a good natter. And the obligatory person trying to tax their car with an out of date MOT/insurance, arguing with the cashier that the rules don't apply to them.

When you finally get to the cashier, you are presented with an astounding array of options for sending. 1st class? 2nd class? Recorded? Signed for? Parcelfarce? £40 insurance? £100 insurance?

Put it on the scales.

The cashier then tries to input the address in their computer. Unfortunately they are a "hunt the key" typist.

They type in the postcode but because your address is "Acme Ltd, Unit X, Anywhereville Business Park" and Unit X does not appear on their list of address numbers, they are now baffled.

This goes on for about 15 minutes, until the other cashier has finished arguing with the car tax person with the expired documents and types the address in manually.

And because you have wasted your entire lunch hour, you spend the rest of the afternoon cranky, hungry and snacking in between meetings.

Bah humbug.

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Inconvenient opening hours,

large queues, and inadequate parking, at sorting offices, or an extra charge (and wait) to have Royal Mail leave something at your local Post Office (if it still exists).

I think Amazon might be on to something.

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So do it online and then you just hand it over?

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So the Post Office will have to change and like banks open longer. It's not Rocket science for blimey!

I'd rather NOT give supermarkets even more control over our shopping habits. Let's keep the PO!

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Finally

Oh please dear God let them roll this out, no more waiting from 8am to 8pm for a delivery that might never arrive. No more HDNL screw ups.

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HDNL

From my experiences with HDNL, I have no confidence that they would even be able to find the Amazon lockers. In fact, I doubt they could find their arse with both hands.

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RCL

Been doing it for ages...

...shop online and collect, I mean.

I occasionally use Tesco online for stuff other than food. It gets delivered for free to the local store, and I pick up when I'm ready.

It's a great service.

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Pint

Why?

I'm sure for most people it's easier to let the Post Office fail to deliver, then pop up to the PO depot after work to pick it up rather than traipse 5 miles across London to get your goodies then lug them home!

My local PO, despite being a bit useless does stay open until 7:30pm for pickups,

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Lucky you

My local depot opens til 7.30pm one day a week. So once a week you can collect your parcels.

And it is in an awkward place. Surrounded by double yellow lines so you have to run in and out before the traffic warden gets you.

I feel sorry for those who don't drive, as to get to it from my house would involve getting 2 seperate buses.

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Here ib Scotland the post man tries to deliver and hands in a card that says I can collect it next day from the SO and not before. On enquiring I find that the PO man actually leaves the sack in the local PO and it gets sent to the SO in the morning. So tough luck if I try to collect it first thing in the morning.

With this alternative drop off idea, the only trouble I can see is that your local PO has little room for hundreds of letters and parcels.

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Meh

Not solving a problem, but moving it

The only way Amazon (or anyone else) can truly solve the deliver-to-home problem is to have their own delivery service. This isn't it. It's just a variation on "your item couldn't be delivered and is at our (delivery partner's) depot" without even the attemped delivery first.

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Alert

No way

Amazon occasionally experiments with alternative shippers - I have one on my %$#@ list called "esenda" that they occasionally use. Apparently, this is a cottage business where ordinary people deliver the packages in their personal vehicles, and they don't seem to screen them very well, or tell them what acceptable delivery hours are - I had one show up for an office delivery on a Sunday and then cuss me out over the phone for making them trake another trip. Duh, it's an office, nobody's there on a day when we don't expect deliveries!

I am really liking the idea of lockers in 24 hour stores. It avoids the OTHER problem you have with shippers; leaving stuff in public spaces (I once had a delivery left on the sidewalk in front of the house), or it simply being signed for by some random person who "forgets" to tell you it arrived and you have to hunt for it.

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