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.