Drugstore chain Rite Aid Corp. is the first U.S. retailer to allow consumers to pick up Amazon.com Inc. orders at store counters with Amazon’s new program called Counter.
The program is available at more than 100 U.S. Rite Aid stores, with a plan to deploy it at more than 1,500 Rite Aid locations by the end of 2019, Amazon says. The retail giant is looking to add the service at additional retail chains and small businesses.
When a customer checks out on Amazon.com or the app, Counter will be one of the delivery locations available for her to choose, if it is available in her ZIP code. This is similar to Amazon’s locker service, which also shows up as a delivery option on the checkout page. Unlike Amazon locker, a person is staffing the pickup area.
Once the order is ready, the customer will receive an email with a bar code that her package is ready to be picked up, and the store hours. At the store, Rite Aid has signs directing the shopper where to pick up the order. The customer provides the bar code to a Rite Aid employee, who will scan it and give the shopper her package. Shoppers have 14 days to pick up an order.
Counter is available for tens of millions of Amazon.com products, the retailer says, and works with same-day, one-day and standard shipping. There is no additional cost to shoppers for this service. Amazon has certain requirements for Counter and Locker orders, such as having a shipping weight less than 10 lbs.
The Counter program is in addition to Amazon’s pickup lockers that Rite Aid also has at its stores.
“Being the first store partner for Counter in the U.S. is a differentiator for Rite Aid and we believe our partnership with Amazon, that includes Locker, creates a stronger in-store experience for existing customers and new customers that come in to pick up their packages,” says Jocelyn Konrad, executive vice president, pharmacy and retail operations of Rite Aid.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive to team up with a competitor, it’s actually a smart idea, says Brendan Witcher, vice president, principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc.
“When customers use services that have a ‘buy online pickup in store’ component, 30-40% of those customers will add on to their original order,” Witcher says. “That’s a strong argument for why any retailer would want the traffic from this kind of service.”
The U.S.-based Counter service is an expansion of the program, which originally launched in the U.K. with apparel merchant Next and Italy with retailers Giunti Al Punto Librerie, Fermopoint and SisalPay. In those countries, the service drove strong customer engagement and additional foot traffic for retailers, Amazon says.
Amazon said it spent years working on the backend technology to power this program.
Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 500.