In an age of online shopping, having packages shipped is almost a daily occurrence for some. It can become almost as normal as walking down to the corner store. But what happens when you don't have a doorman or aren't comfortable having a package sit outside your house all day long? Amazon thinks they might have the answer.
Let's face it. Package deliveries are the bane of the online shoppers existence. So far every aspect of the shopping experience has been near perfected up until this point. Some web stores have condensed their process to one-click purchasing. But when the package gets into the hands of UPS, USPS, Fedex, etc... it becomes a total crapshoot. Tracking may or may not be accurate, customer service is a joke, and delivery times are estimates at best. So it's in the online shop's best interest to perfect that portion of the shopping experience as best as possible, knowing they can only go so far when dealing with a third party shipper.
So, what does Amazon do? Rather than interrupt the 2nd stage of the process -- the shipping -- they instead try to improve the final phase, receiving the package. How many of us have missed our opportunity to meet the delivery man and had to travel to some remote area to go to the UPS shipping facility to pick it up? Now Amazon thinks they can rectify the situation using what they are calling Amazon Lockers.
The locker is exactly that: a giant wall of secure storage space which is installed in various public convenience stores such as 7-11 or Rite Aid. These operate like one-time P.O. boxes. When you place your order on Amazon, you would be given the option to have the package shipped directly to one of the locker systems. You would then be given a special pin code that would allow you to open up the locker once your package had arrived. No more delivery gamble of whether or not you may receive your package on time.
Of course, not every company can provide such service. It behooves Amazon to do this because one, they have the money to start such an insane project. And two, because Amazon has such a wide range of products available, if they can ease the pain of shipping for a customer who may be looking at a product elsewhere for equal cost, that customer would likely move to Amazon to make their purchase if they know their package will be guaranteed to arrive, without hassle.
Is this kind of shipping the way of the future? What if a third-party company establishes this locker system throughout the city and any store, big or small, could ship to the lockers? This has so far been uncharted territory in web store experience design.
(Images: Flickr members drewgstephens and Hummy licensed for use under Creative Commons.)