You might say that when it comes to delivery, Amazon is flooding the zone.
With Walmart and Target nipping at its heels, the e-commerce giant is determined to win the delivery wars by dropping off packages wherever, and whenever, a shopper might want to receive them.
Forgot your sunscreen? For the first time, this year, Amazon delivered items to Coachella. On a business trip but didn't pack your tie? Hilton Hotels are among the locations where you can have one shipped to an Amazon locker.
In Snohomish County, Washington, a robot may bring packages to your door. Prime members can have purchases ferried into their foyers. And if you'd rather not have a stranger in your house, starting this week, Amazon will park packages in your garage instead.
"For many customers, doorstep delivery works absolutely fine,'' says Patrick Supanc, worldwide director of Amazon pickup points. "But we do have customers who would like to have the option to deliver to an alternative location perhaps because they're busy and can't be home. (Or) perhaps they live in a place where they don't have a doorstep.''
Amazon upended the retail landscape when it enabled shoppers to buy everything from books to tires online. But now that its rivals have ramped up their e-commerce offerings as well, the next leg in the race to win customers is getting them their packages as quickly and conveniently as possible.
In an earnings call Thursday, the company said that it was aiming to evolve its free two-day shipping option for Prime members to one day, building out much of the necessary fulfillment and transportation capabilities this year.
“Going to one day increases the convenience and increases the available selection,’’ says Amazon’s CFO Brian Olsavsky. “We really think it’s going to be groundbreaking for Prime customers,’’
Woman blames E. Coli for kidney failure: Woman claims E. coli caused kidney failure, seizures in first suit over 56-ton meat recall
Pier 1 may be next: Pier 1 Imports may be headed toward bankruptcy, S&P warns
Neil Saunders, managing director of the retail consultancy GlobalData says that "over the past year, fulfillment has become the new battleground of retail. ... As the leader in the online space, Amazon has been in the vanguard of fulfillment innovation, mainly so that it can stay one step ahead of its competitors."
This month, Amazon set up lockers at Coachella, the popular music festival where concertgoers could receive deliveries of phone chargers, sunscreen and other items under the desert sun.
While lockers at the festival were temporary, Amazon has set up lockers in supermarkets, hotels and other businesses in more than 900 cities across the country. Shoppers can pick a locker location for their delivery address when checking out. They'll be notified when their purchases arrive, get a locker code and can then retrieve their items.
Amazon is also enhancing its home delivery. Starting this week, in 50 cities, members of Amazon Prime who have or purchase a myQ-connected garage opener can choose to have their packages dropped off inside the garage.
“We think it truly has an opportunity to be a game changer in how people get their packages delivered,'' said Jeff Meredith, chief operating officer for Chamberlain, the company behind the myQ smart garage opener technology.
The new option may particularly appeal to shoppers who don't want to risk their packages being stolen from their front porch but aren't crazy about the idea of a stranger entering into their actual home.
"It’s seen as not nearly as intrusive,'' says Meredith. "There’s still a small fraction of people that would have uneasiness with the garage as well but much less.''
Businesses like Chase, Hilton, 7-Eleven as well as Whole Foods, the premium supermarket chain that Amazon now owns, may also get a pay off from allowing their locations to be locations where customers can access Amazon lockers, Supanc says.
It "often drives additional purchasing by those customers,'' he says. "I stop into a local Hilton to pick up a package, and I see it has a nice bar and maybe I grab a drink after work. I go to a convenience store, and I realize there’s a couple things I can pick up before I go home.''
Other retailers are also investing in their online and delivery options, moves that may have contributed to Amazon's slower growth in the first quarter.
"Mass merchants like Target and Walmart have doubled down on improving their online offer and range of services, including in collection and delivery,'' Saunders said in an investors note in regard to Amazon's first-quarter performance.
Those retailers have grown their share of customers, many of whom also shop with Amazon. "As much as this is offset by gains elsewhere, it is extremely unhelpful to growth,'' Saunders said. "In our view, the trend is only likely to accelerate going forward."
Besides offering delivery, Nordstrom, Target and other retailers are leveraging their networks of physical stores as points where customers can pick up purchases. Walmart however, has been particularly creative in trying out new ways of getting packages to customers at home.
In 2017, it tested a pilot in which grocery orders were not only taken inside the house but placed in the refrigerator. Currently, Walmart is hiring employees to specifically drop off groceries during their shifts.
Meanwhile, Walmart shoppers who want to pick up online purchases at an actual store will be able to do so at 3,100 locations this year, and the number of stores that will make deliveries will increase to 1,600.
Delivery can be an expensive proposition for retailers, shrinking their profits. "Although consumers increasingly demand and expect a range of delivery options, they do not want to pay for them,'' Saunders says. "It is not so bad for retailers offering pick-up for stores, as this can be more cost-effective than delivering to homes, but other delivery solutions can be costly.''
Still, Amazon's sheer dominance may lessen the financial risk.
"Ultimately, its aim is to be a retailer than can reach consumers anywhere or anyhow,'' Saunders says.
Amazon returns, no box required: Kohl's to accept Amazon returns at all stores beginning in July
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amazon looking to shift to one-day Prime shipping and delivering orders wherever you want