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Business

Amazon: 'delivery time from hours to minutes'

The world's largest online retailer is rolling out pickup points in the US where shoppers can retrieve items immediately after ordering them. The pilot project was launched around five college campuses.

Shoppers in the vicinity of five college campuses in the US, including the University of California in Berkeley, saw the launch Tuesday of Amazon's latest program to strengthen its brick-and-mortar presence.

Shoppers on the retailer's mobile app can now select several hundred fast-selling items from snacks and drinks to phone chargers. Employees in a back room are then supposed to load orders into lockers within no more than two minutes, while customers receive bar codes to access them.

The new service called Instant Pickup underscores Amazon's broader effort to strengthen its physical shopping facilities as it has come to realize that certain transactions like buying fresh produce are hard to shift online.

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Impulse buys

"I want to buy a can of coke because I'm thirsty," said Amazon's director of student programs, Ripley MacDonald.

"There's no chance I'm going to order that on Amazon.com and wait however long it's going to take for that to ship to me," he explained, adding that Instant Pickup could be the solution.

Until the new program, Amazon shoppers in the US could expect to have their orders within an hour at best via their Prime Now membership, while there's a two-day shipping standard in the United States for most people using Amazon.

Instant Pickup puts the retail giant in direct competition with vending machine services.

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hg/jd (Reuters, AP)

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