The Local Selling initiative gives Amazon what it needs—a massive footprint for BOPIS and fast, local delivery.

Third-party sellers on the Amazon marketplace can now offer buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) and delivery services from their own brick-and-mortar operations. The move is the latest effort by Amazon to solve the “last mile” delivery issue for local businesses.

Under the “Local Selling” initiative announced Oct. 21, the marketplace would serve as a sales and payment platform, but fulfillment would be handled by retailers. Shoppers in specific zip codes can buy items from marketplace sellers on Amazon.com and choose same-day pickup at the seller’s local store or delivery.

The move could prove particularly valuable to businesses that sell goods that are large, fragile or perishable. Local Selling could help keep shoppers tied to the Amazon ecosystem by offering them the sort of convenience found by shopping locally.

Local Selling is similar to the existing program known as Fulfillment By Merchant (FBM), in which third-party sellers maintain control of the shipping and handling process rather than paying a service fee to have Amazon do so. Local Selling takes that a step further and gives Amazon the ability to compete in fast, local fulfillment against Walmart Inc. and Target Corp., which use their vast network of brick-and-mortar stores to facilitate local delivery. Local Selling is also similar to a feature on Shopify that allows sellers on its platform the option to offer in-store pick up.

According to a press release from Amazon, the Local Selling service is already live with a number of its third-party sellers, including Mavis Discount Tire, Sears Hometown Store, 4 Wheel Parts, Electronic Express, Appliance Connection, Mattress Warehouse, Beach Camera, Adorama, DataVision, Exclusive Furniture, World Wide Stereo, MODIA, Focus Camera and others. Shoppers can now purchases an item from one of those sellers on Amazon.com and then pick it up at the seller’s local store.

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Major retailers with extensive physical store footprints have put considerable investment into BOPIS. That paid off, particularly during the worst of the pandemic when many shoppers avoided indoor purchasing. Merchants who offered BOPIS or curbside pickup methods experienced 32% higher conversion rates, according to Adobe Analytics.

And as seen in the chart below, research from Digital Commerce 360 shows that retailers that offer BOPIS or curbside pickup saw considerably higher growth in web sales in 2020 than did retailers who didn’t offer such fulfillment services.

Amazon announced the Local Selling plan during Amazon Accelerate, an online conference for marketplace sellers, held Oct. 20-21, 2021. Earlier in the conference, the company released its 2021 Amazon Small Business Empowerment Report, in which the retailer reported that Amazon marketplace sellers’ average sales increased in the year ending Aug. 31 16.6% from a year earlier.

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