This is a whole new way to enjoy “counter” service: Amazon announced Thursday a new feature that allows Amazon shoppers to pick up their online orders at the counter at Rite Aid stores across the U.S., including some in San Diego.
The online retail giant’s newest offering is called Counter and aims to give customers an easy way to safely pick up their Amazon packages from third-party retail outlets.
The company’s first store partner is Rite Aid, with the service being offered at more than 100 locations nationwide as of Thursday, “from Oyster Bay, New York, to Chula Vista, California,” according to an Amazon press release. Shoppers can search for those Rite Aid Counter locations here, by zip code, after signing into their account.
Amazon’s Counter will expand to include 1,500 Rite Aid stores by the end of the year. The company is also looking to bring on additional partner stores for Counter, from department to convenience stores across the country.
Amazon said this delivery option is available to all customers at no extra cost and works with same-day, one-day, two-day and standard shipping options. When their package arrives at the store, customers receive an email notification with a unique barcode. At the store, customers show the barcode to an employee who will scan it and turn over their package. Customers have 14 days to pick up their package from the Counter, Amazon said.
It's the first time Amazon is bringing the service to the U.S., after it began offering it at stores in Italy and the United Kingdom last month. Amazon has installed lockers in supermarkets, 7-Eleven stores and banks where packages can be picked up, but said this option is for shops that don't have space for lockers.
Amazon hopes the service will fill one of its weaknesses: physical locations where customers can buy online and pickup in stores if they want. The option has been popular with shoppers at Walmart, Target and other big retailers.
For Rite Aid, the service could bring in Amazon shoppers who may buy something off its store shelves. Rite Aid could also try to get them to fill prescriptions at the chain's pharmacy, said Jon Reily, vice president of commerce strategy at consultancy Publicis Sapient.
But Amazon has been pushing into health care itself, buying online pharmacy PillPack last year.
"I'd be nervous about the wolf in the cage here," said Reily.
Still, investors seemed to like the arrangement: Rite Aid Corp.'s stock soared 23% Thursday.
A similar partnership has worked for Kohl's, which accepts Amazon returns inside its department stores. Kohl's has said the deal has helped boost sales.
They may seem like unusual tie-ups, but more physical retailers are working with Amazon in the hopes that they can reach its millions of shoppers. Sears, for example, sells its Kenmore-branded appliances on Amazon.com. And some clothing and shoe brands, such as Chico's, J. Crew and Nike, are selling some of their fashions on the site.
Kohl's and Amazon have been working together since 2017, when Kohl's started selling Amazon Kindles, Echos and other gadgets at some of its stores.
When Amazon's lockers service launched in San Diego in 2012, locals appreciated the alternative, saying the lockers were great for customers who didn't want their unattended packages sitting on their doorsteps all day.
Today, Amazon Hub Locker operates at more than a dozen San Diego 7-Eleven stores, from downtown San Diego to Mission Valley and National City.