Why wait an hour when you could get your purchases in two minutes? That's the thinking behind Amazon's new Instant Pickup service, which turns the Amazon shopping experience into a vending machine-like transaction.
The service is launching today in just five locations — Atlanta, Berkeley, College Park, Columbus, and L.A. — but will roll out to other cities soon. If it seems strange that other national hubs, such as New York and Chicago, aren't on the initial list — there's a reason: While all Prime members will have access to Instant Pickup, Amazon seems to be targeting the service towards Prime Student members. Currently, each of the Instant Pickup spots is on or near a college campus.
Here's how it works: If you're close by one of those locations, update the Amazon app, tap the menu icon in the upper lefthand corner, and select Instant Pickup within Programs and Features. Here, you'll see all the items that are available near you for Instant Pickup, from small essentials, such as phone chargers to snacks, drinks, as well as Amazon products like the Kindle and Echo. If you see something you need, head to your pickup location, place your order, and within two minutes an Amazon employee will have placed your goods in a self-service locker that you unlock with a barcode on the app.
This shopping experience, which takes any human contact out of the equation, is similar to Amazon Go. That brick and mortar store, which is currently only available to Amazon employees in Seattle, lets shoppers buy grocery staples simply buy picking them off the shelves. You simply scan a barcode upon entering and you're set; "Just Walk Out" technology detects when items are removed from shelves and by whom.
For those of us who don't work at Amazon, Instant Pickup's closest comparison is Amazon Prime Now, which can deliver a wider range of products to Prime members within an hour. While a 60-minute or less window is impressive, the option to pickup items within two minutes is more appealing if you need something in a pinch.
This announcement comes on the heels of the news that Target has acquired a same-day delivery company with the intention to compete in the same-day delivery space. Google, meanwhile, has its own same-day drop-off shopping service, Google Express. (Head here to see Refinery29's take on how Google Express compares to Prime Now.)
All this competition means one thing for shoppers: Expect to see increasingly faster ways to get the products you want, without needing to do anything more than a few taps on your phone.