Amazon's new locker system at 7-Eleven store in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood

Yesterday, my two-year-old son and I did a little investigative reporting. Our goal? Find the Seattle area 7-Eleven housing Amazon.com’s new delivery locker system.

We started our quest near Magnusson Park — where the 7-Eleven clerk had no idea what we were talking about — and ended up in Capitol Hill where we discovered the new lockers at the store at 1522 East Madison Street.

The Amazon lockers take up a sizable chunk of space at 7-Eleven

What are these lockers — which stand about 7-feet tall and take up a sizable chunk of the north wall — all about? One of the clerks explained that they would allow Amazon customers to pick up packages at the 7-Eleven.

When asked if they had more information about getting one of the lockers, the clerk suggested I contact Amazon. He then said that they plan to activate the lockers on Friday.

On my visit, the keypad and monitor in the middle of the lockers was not turned on. About 40 different lockers of various sizes were located in the rack, and there’s no Amazon branding anywhere to be found.

The keypad on the Amazon lockers was not yet activated

As we noted in our story yesterday, Amazon rivals such as Best Buy and Walmart already allow in-store pick-ups of online purchases. Partnering with 7-Eleven could give Amazon customers a place to have packages stored in case they didn’t feel comfortable having them dropped off at the apartment, office or home.

The Daily first reported on the Amazon lockers last week. Customers gain access to the boxes after receiving an email notification with a bar code that is used to get a pin number that’s entered on the keypad.

Follow-up: Amazon’s new locker system at 7-Eleven is not its first foray into pick-up stations

Follow-upAmazon set to unlock delivery lockers at U.K. retailers too

Follow-up: Amazon Locker is turned on at 7-Eleven: Anyone using it yet?

Comments

  • Guest

    Kudos to John for becoming the first tech journalist ever to do original research in the “real world” to back up a rumour!

  • Guest

    You don’t “get a locker”. You go there with your printed (or mobile?) receipt with bar code, scan it, and the drawer with
    your package will automagically pop open.

    I’m guessing Amazon won’t be the only partner for 7-11. They’d be smart
    to let any retailer use the locker system. Probably a smart (but new) 3rd party involved
    who created it, and is trying to sign up multiple retailers, otherwise it could
    be a big waste of valuable convenience store space which 7-11 wouldn’t go for.

    7-11 will get a
    small cut from retailers, plus more foot traffic. The 3rd party will get
    a cut from retailers for enabling it all and increasing sales. Amazon/Retailers can possibly
    consolidate shipments to each store to save on their shipping costs.
    Customers can probably get free and/or faster shipping from the
    retailers, as a benefit for using the system.

    But 7-11 is notorious for implementing smart new ideas like this,
    sometimes in a very big way, then it doesn’t get used enough and is gone
    (along with the enabling company) within a year or two. Hopefully this one is a keeper. Great idea.

    • Guest

      I imagine if a third party is behind this idea, they would be taking credit for it, and we would hear about more than just Amazon utilizing it.

    • http://twitter.com/mulka Kyle Mulka

      I’m pretty sure this is an Amazon-initiated project. I doubt any other online retailers would sign up for a 7-11 locker system and go through the system integration necessary to make it a reality when something like this hasn’t been proven yet.

      Amazon has likely struck a rental agreement with 7-11 for the space and Internet connection with the understanding that consumers will be coming in to pick up packages and Amazon employees will be refilling the lockers once (or more) per day.

  • http://www.mattebert.com Matt Ebert

    This would be awesome! They cannot install one at my local 7-11 soon enough. UPS/FedEx/whoever will not leave deliveries at my door and will only deliver to the complex office….which is only open until 6p. Most days I am not home before then so I have to wait until the weekend to get my packages. With this I can just zip into the 7-11 around the corner and grab my packages and a slurpee. DONE!

  • Martin Pagel

    In Germany the Postal Service uses a similar technology to allow pickup of packages if they can’t deliver it during the day, very convenient!

    • http://www.facebook.com/theplaz Michael Plasmeier

      Actually the hardware looks identical to what I remember Deutsche Post used in some locations.  They probably just imported the same hardware.

      • Fabian Crabus

        Nope, looking at our test machines here: Amazon’s machines are different

    • Anonymous

      ByBox has a service like this in the UK – there are locker banks at different places, including railway stations (popular with commuters!). I believe they’ve been doing this for more than ten years. The locker banks are really strong, and the doors open automatically once you enter the PIN sent to you by email. You can also use it for returns – very handy!

  • Guest

    Notice the display of prepaid cards in the foreground of the second photo. Now a person can buy an Amazon gift card with cash, register an Amazon account with a throwaway e-mail address and a fake name, buy goods, and have them delivered to this locker.

    Anonymous shopping has come to the Internet age. The game has just been changed.

    • Logandorsey

      Very good idea!

  • Me

    What’s wrong with using a Post Office?

    • Steve

      You ever seen the line at the PO?
      Short counter hours.
      Need to rent a box for a period of time, this will allow 1-time use.

    • http://twitter.com/GaryJPalys Gary J. Palys

      I would imagine the post office will deliver it to the lockers… It’s a option, not mandatory.

    • Anonymous

      the post office is closing 3000 locations, laying off 125,000 postal workers, might cut saturday delivery and might be closed this winter.

    • Anonymous

      One of my old PO Box addresses was at a post office which refused to use the oversized package lockers instead forcing you to come to the desk to pick up a package during the location’s open hours.  It took about 3 years from when new PO Boxes and oversize package boxes were installed until they actually used the oversize package boxes.

  • http://fudge.org Jay Cuthrell

    Welcome to Tokyo… from over a decade ago.

  • http://fudge.org Jay Cuthrell

    Welcome to Tokyo… from over a decade ago.

    • Guest

      Thank you, Jay. I’m glad to be in Tokyo over a decade ago. Now who’s this “Ichiro” guy all the kids are talking about? And could I crash on your tatami? It’s crazy stupid expensive here.

    • Anonymous

      Amazon had pickup locations at 7-11s in Tokyo?

      • http://twitter.com/snogglethorpe Miles Bader

        Amazon has delivered to Japanese convenience stores for years (not sure exactly when it started).

        Not 7-11 AFAIK, though; the main partner is Lawson (who I think are either the biggest or 2nd biggest chain; anyway, they have a store about every 500m…).

        They use a much simpler system that the one described in this story though: packages just go in a big box behind the counter, and once you’ve authenticated yourself, the clerk looks through it and finds your package.

        Works a treat, much better than home delivery (this is even more true in Japan than in the U.S., because of the ubiquity of convenience stores in Japan)

  • Anonymous

    Wow that looks pretty cool dude, Good idea.
    anon-toolz.edu.tc

  • Anonymous

    Wow that looks pretty cool dude, Good idea.
    anon-toolz.edu.tc

  • Goldstandard8000

    Awesome. I’m gonna head down my local one and beg them to get it soon! Now I will fell comfortable to buy from amazon again!!

    Thanks,
    Gloria

  • Niclaz

    Folks, In Mlbourne Australia one of the major supermarket retailers down there has  refrigerated wetherproof lockers outside service stations that work exactly the same way for grocery shopping. You place your order online from work in the morning and collect whilst filling up on the way home…..

    • Leet Hacker

      That sounds awesome.  I would totally use that.

  • Guest

    Next, Amazon can purchase the US Postal Service and let us pick up our mail at various retailers that we frequently go to (Grocery Store, Gas Station, etc.)

    • http://twitter.com/thDigitalReader Nate the great

      Who goes to retailers anymore? I thought that was what Amazon was for.

      • http://twitter.com/topscientist Top Scientist

        You order your gasoline online, Einstein?

      • http://twitter.com/topscientist Top Scientist

        You order your gasoline online, Einstein?

  • Facebook User

    I thought that value of in-store pickup at Walmart and Best Buy was so that you could pick it up at the store SAME DAY. These lockers seem like an expensive/complex way to solve a very OLD problem that has been solved for years. The UPS Store, Mailboxes Ect and the FedEx Store will hold packages all day for you.

    • Leet Hacker

      Amazon should pre-stock certain lockers with popular goods.  That way when you buy one of those goods, it could just tell you where to go pick it up immediately.  Maybe even the 7-11 staff could help with some of the restocking.

    • http://twitter.com/snogglethorpe Miles Bader

      The real advantage of using convenience stores is that are are typically many more of them than places like ups/fedex/mbox-etc, and they’re [often] open 24 hours a day.  The convenience of picking up packages at your leisure (and it is super convenient when implemented well) is much reduced if you’ve got to travel vast distances to do it, and can only do so during business hours…

    • http://twitter.com/snogglethorpe Miles Bader

      The real advantage of using convenience stores is that are are typically many more of them than places like ups/fedex/mbox-etc, and they’re [often] open 24 hours a day.  The convenience of picking up packages at your leisure (and it is super convenient when implemented well) is much reduced if you’ve got to travel vast distances to do it, and can only do so during business hours…

    • Anonymous

      Those stores are not open at 3 am.

      Some folks do not live near those places.

      In-store pickup at Walmart/BestBuy doesn’t help if you’ve ordered some obscure book from an Amazon seller.

  • http://twitter.com/kenmoss Ken Moss

    Kudos to John for fantastic reporting.  Kudos to Amazon for exploring a fantastic idea.

  • Justa Schmuck

    i wonder about the security of this method of delivery. for example, say i use a stolen credit card to buy something from amazon, then have it delivered to a 7-11 locker. when i pick it up, i wear a hoodie to cover my face/features and no one checks my identity before i pick up the item. when the credit card is reported stolen, and the police try to find out who the culprit was, how can they track down the culprit who picks up stuff anonymously? i don’t think i’ll be using this delivery system anytime soon.

    • Guest

      I doubt that they put that much effort into tracking down the culprit anyway.

    • Guest

       Nice. I like your style.

    • Anonymous

      Just because you don’t have stuff shipped there doesn’t mean someone that steals your credit card won’ t.

    • Anonymous

      “say i use a stolen credit card”

      Any reputable credit card company will not charge you for items purchased on a stolen card.

    • http://twitter.com/topscientist Top Scientist

      What does what method of delivery YOU use have to do with what method THE CROOK uses, Einstein?

  • Anonymous

    Somebody is thinking.  They know what it is like to not be home when the UPS guy shows up with your package, knowing you won’t be home the next day, either.

    • Anonymous

      More likely Amazon has paid much more in lost/stolen/non-delivered claims than they want due to the UPS delivery person leaving the package outside the front door of your house or apartment for all the world to see and steal.

  • Anonymous

    Somebody is thinking.  They know what it is like to not be home when the UPS guy shows up with your package, knowing you won’t be home the next day, either.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t get my mail delivery person, who knows me and waves when I see her, to put my mail in the right box. What does an Amazon customer do when the box opens and they get purple earmuffs instead of that new iPad?

    • Festokgb

      Wear the dang earmuffs and be happy about it! Probably get more use out of them than that iPad.

    • http://twitter.com/mulka Kyle Mulka

      This is why it will likely be an Amazon employee doing the delivery to the 7-11.

    • http://twitter.com/mulka Kyle Mulka

      This is why it will likely be an Amazon employee doing the delivery to the 7-11.

  • Anonymous

    Nice timing with 9-11 and all. I thought we did away with these types of things after 9-11. The criminals and terrorists are always looking for ways to think outside the box. Did I make a pun? 

    • Guest

      It’s 7-Eleven, Art. Not 9-11.

      Did you know? The name “7-Eleven” came from the fact that the stores were open from 7 AM to 11 PM. Imagine how revolutionary it was to have a store open until 11:00 in the night!

    • Anonymous

      Airports ditched their storage lockers after 9/11.

    • http://twitter.com/topscientist Top Scientist

      Jesus, could you be any dumber?  Terrorists aren’t interested in blowing up convenience stores.  And if they were this wouldn’t help anyway.

  • http://twitter.com/CEP_Observer Alan Robinson

    Here is an article on the implications for the Postal Servcie.  It also has pictures of similar delivery systems in Germany and Denmark, and link to the manufacturer KEBA.  With #USPS in trouble, Amazon tests alternative.  Could revolutionize small parcel delivery http://courierexpressandpostal.blogspot.com/2011/09/amazon-preparing-for-postal-service.html  It all likelyhood, it will be not have an Amazon brand but will be open to all small parcel shippers (retailers).   While Amazon is large they are not large enough to support the system but add Macy’s, JC Penney’s, Barnes and Noble, Apple, etc…. and you have enough volume to keep the kiosk profitable.  I would expect that all shippers, including amazon will pay between 50 cents to $1 for delivery

  • M@

    I can imagine Amazon shipping very popular products to lockers before purchases are made – in essence allowing you to buy a product online and pick it up immediatly.

    • http://twitter.com/topscientist Top Scientist

      Just because you can imagine it doesn’t mean it’s not an amazingly stupid idea.

      • Guest

        I really hope our “top scientists” aren’t as easily trolled as you are, Terry.

    • http://twitter.com/topscientist Top Scientist

      Just because you can imagine it doesn’t mean it’s not an amazingly stupid idea.

  • johnhcook

    Thanks for the comments and analysis. BTW, here’s a follow-up story. We’ll be tracking thi one closely. 

    “Amazon’s new locker system at 7-Eleven is not its first foray into pick-up stations”

    http://www.geekwire.com/2011/amazon-tested-pickup-stations-turn

  • Jason Tabert

    Hrm.  I wonder if I’ll be able to have wine shipments sent here.  It’s always a pain to cart them home from the office, and I’m never around during the day when they try and deliver at home.  I’d much rather hit up a local 7-11 than try and drive to SoDo and deal with picking them up at the shipping centers.

  • Michael Harden

    Here is some real world stuff that exists: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgYDXcmkFjI

  • http://www.facebook.com/robgreenlee Rob Greenlee

    This delivery safe locker box concept was originally birthed by a start-up in Tacoma back in 2000 called ShopperBox Networks – READ here about it – http://www.dmnews.com/shopperbox-networks-launches-e-commerce-delivery-solution/article/67739/

    The delivery box configuation in the photo looks identical to the one we built back then. 

    • silvia

      Hello Rob,
      who manufactures the locker box?

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