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walgreens pickup zoneSeems no one talks about the last mile of ecommerce any more, but that doesn't mean it's gotten any shorter. You remember the last mile, don't you? It's getting packages delivered into the hands of consumers. Even when they don't have a doorman, aren't home, the office is closed, they don't have a P.O. box, didn't hear the doorbell, there's no one to sign for it -- all the myriad reasons couriers (and by extension, online merchants) can't get packages to their final destination.

Seems Walgreens hasn't forgotten the problem. More than that, they may have a clever solution to it.

My local Walgreens (so far, the service is only running in New York and Boston) just debuted a free service called Pickup Zone. It's brilliant in its simplicity and price (free!), and could be a boon for the ubiquitous drug and convenience store's brick-and-mortar locations by bringing in foot traffic. Who, after all, doesn't always need something from Walgreens?

The concept's dead simple: pick a convenient Walgreen's location (there's a store a block a a half from where I live). Register on the Pickup Zone website. Walgreen's supplies you with a unique code and an address to use when ordering from (presumably online) merchants. Your package arrives, they send you an email, you swing by the store to pick it up and in the process perhaps buy a quart of milk, a bottle of nail polish, a box of bandaids, tube of toothpaste or what-have-you.

Sounds like a win-win. And a much better experience than the time I brought my new vacuum cleaner home from the office, piece by piece, over the course of several days.

Rebecca Lieb

Published 17 December, 2009 by Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb oversees Econsultancy's North American operations.

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Mike Stenger

Mike Stenger, MikeStenger.com

This sounds just like Walmart's "Site-to-store" shipping where it's free to ship to any Walmart location. Then once your stuff is there, you just pick it up. The difference is Walmart has had this around for years. I can still see though how it can help boost Walgreen's business. Smart move!

almost 7 years ago

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Amit Tripathi

Definitely a smart business decision from the pharmacy giant. But like Mike mentioned above, the concept has been around for quite some time. Walmart calls it "Site to Store" and almost all electronic retail giants have this "Click and collect" concept where you can order online and collect the item in store within a certain period of time...

Anyway. a smart move and something that'll be a great diffrentiator for them. Win Win for the consumer as well. Comfort rules!!

almost 7 years ago

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Ken F. Campbell

It's actually WAY BIGGER than what walmart is doing. This service allows you to ship FROM ANY ONLINE STORE to WALGREENS. Including amazon - it's pure GENIUS! Amazon, Walmart, there is a new competitor in town!!!

almost 7 years ago

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Rebecca Lieb

Exactly, Ken! Order online, pick up in-store has been around for over a decade. I recall The Gap debuting the service in the mid-90s. What Walgreen is effectively doing is becoming a sort of Mailboxes, Etc. (a US post office box chain, for you UK readers). They'll accept packages from any online retailer for registered users of the service.

Ken is absolutely right: the is WAY bigger than in-store delivery from the same retailer.

almost 7 years ago

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Dan

Turns out this is not just Walgreens. So check http://www.pickupzone.com for all available locations. I have Walgreens and True Value in my area in Boston. Not quite walking distance, but a very short driving distance. I will definitely try it. Interestingly, UPS has been leaving all my packages without anyone home this holiday season. My regular driver will never do that, and voids the waiver signature field.

almost 7 years ago

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Mike

How does Pickup Zone, the company behind the process, make money?  Is there a per package fee that Walgreens and others must pay Pickup Zone?

By looking at the Pickup Zone web site, I could have Walgreens act as my PO Box and have all my US mail sent there.

I can't beleive Walgreen's would allow 10 days worth of packages to be built up in their stockroom.  Walgreen's is typcially located in prime real estate areas; what does a square foot of retail cost Walgreens? 

I don't see this going on too long without the last mile customer being charged a fee for this service.

almost 7 years ago

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