Amazon.com employee Miracle Stewart prepares orders at a New York distribution hub last year. At the other end, Amazon is hoping shoppers will have Hub lockers, which accept shipments from all retailers — not just Amazon.
Amazon.com doesn’t just want to control the “last mile” of online delivery. The company wants to own the finish line, too.
Amazon has started a service in which residents of apartment buildings can receive and store packages in on-site lockers operated by the online retail giant in Seattle. While the company offers lockers in places like Safeway and 7-Eleven where shoppers can retrieve Amazon packages, the new Hub lockers will accept deliveries from any sender.
That means merchandise ordered online from Walmart, Target and Best Buy could end up in lockers operated by the very company swiping business from them. By analyzing those shipments, Amazon could in theory reap an enormous amount of competitor information, including the origin, size, weight and frequency of packages at a particular location.
“Amazon will know everything that’s going on in those lockers,” said Doug Stephens, founder of the Retail Prophet consulting firm. “The lockers are like a Venus fly trap” for data.
An Amazon spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Hub is the only latest effort by the company to control all aspects of the supply chain. When you buy from a third-party seller on Amazon, the odds are good that the merchandise is stored in an Amazon warehouse. In addition to its enormous distribution centers, Amazon is developing its own cargo air service, Prime Air, to lessen its dependence on outside carriers like UPS. It has even completed a Prime Air delivery by drone. And despite some reverses — Staples and RadioShack dumped their Amazon Lockers in 2013 — Amazon has been expanding the locker program to places like college campuses.
By controlling all aspects of the e-commerce experience, Amazon can significantly lower its costs, especially the last mile of delivery. This final leg tends to be the most expensive because people often miss deliveries and packages get lost or stolen. Hence Amazon Lockers.
But Hub represents a dramatic escalation against retailers. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has often talked about how…