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Amazon Uses Newspaper Logistics for New Same-Day Service

It may have seemed like a joke when eBay CEO John Donahoe told BusinessWeek that excess capacity in newspaper trucks could make same-day delivery economical. But one major rival is taking the concept seriously.

Amazon is using the same logistics network that delivers newspapers and magazines to UK stores every day to help it offer a same-day package pickup service in the UK in a deal announced on Wednesday. Amazon is collaborating with Smiths News, a company “works around the clock to deliver 40m newspapers and 14m magazines each week via the world’s fastest supply chain,” according to its website.

Customers will be able to purchase products on Amazon by 11:45 am and pick up their order after 4 pm the same day. Additionally, customers also have the option of Express Morning collection. Orders placed by 7:45 pm being will be available for guaranteed collection the next morning as early as 6:30 am and no later than 9 am, depending on the store opening time.

Smiths News’ “Pass My Parcel” service is available at over 500 newsagents and convenience stores, but it is not exclusive to Amazon: “Pass My Parcel goes live with Amazon as its launch client and, during Autumn 2014, will have up to 1,000 parcelshops, in the Pass My Parcel network, serviced from 12 Smiths News distribution centres,” according to the Smiths News parent website.

It operates 43 distribution centers across the country and makes more than 200,000 tracked customer deliveries each week using a hub-and-spoke model. Smiths News’ parent company also owns wholesale and academic book distributors and online bookselling site Wordery.

In its press release announcing the news, Amazon.co.uk Managing Director Christopher North said, “This is our fastest pick-up service yet. We know that Prime customers love fast delivery and the convenience to pick up their order at a time and place that suits them best. This new service brings together both of those great benefits.”

Amazon now offers more than 6,000 pick-up locations including the “Pass my Parcel” stores, Collect+ stores, and Amazon Lockers. In addition, “We have recently added Birmingham International Airport and a number of London tube stations to our ever-expanding list of pick-up locations,” North said.

How does Amazon know that customers want same-day availability? Deliveries made to Amazon Lockers nationally have more than doubled in the last year, it revealed.

Amazon Prime members in the UK will be able to use the new same-day pickup service for free through the end of the year. Customers who aren’t members of Amazon Prime can opt for same-day pickup for 4.99 pounds for a limited time.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.