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Supply Chain News: Amazon to Pick and Store Orders in Two Minutes, Use Chutes from Drones for Deliveries


New Instant PickUp Program Targets the Impulse Buy Market with Five Locations, Many More to Follow

Aug. 21, 2017
SCDigest Editorial Staff has launched yet another new service that will involve fulfillment center workers taking just two minutes to pick and store on-line orders for immediate pick up.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

In fact, the patent filing says that a quad-copter drone may have four chutes, and only extend one for a delivery, using the other three for sound insulation.

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Amazon is calling the service "Instant Pickup" points. It has already launched the service around five college campuses, such as the University of California at Berkeley, and has plans to open more sites by the end of the year, including one in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.

All five existing locations already operating as pickup spots that Amazon had already built for deliveries to campuses. Those locations have small warehouses built behind the lockers, which open from the front and the back, so Amazon must have added permanent inventory to these sites to create the Instant Pickup service.

Shoppers on Amazon's mobile app can select from several hundred fast-selling items at each site, from snacks and drinks to phone chargers. After the two minutes it takes to pick and secure the orders, customers are sent an access code to open one of the lockers.

Some retail experts are saying that with the program Amazon is targeting a new market segment – the "impulse buy." Amazon apparently considered automating the picking process - like some sort of giant vending machine - but decided against the automation for now.

The service ups the ante on Amazon's previous fastest fulfillment program, the 15 minutes it takes for grocery orders via AmazonFresh Pickup.

There is speculation that Amazon might eventually make Instant PickUp a service available from its Whole Foods grocery store arm when that acquisition is complete, but SCDigest notes that the order picking would be a lot more complex with the thousands of SKUs and much large physical store footprint at Whole Foods versus a dedicated Instant PickUp site.

Delivery Chutes to Improvde Drone Delivery

Ever the patent machine, Amazon has filed yet another patent for drone deliveries, this one involving extendable accordion-like chutes that would gently ease parcels to the ground through a series of ridges.

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The chute, which Amazon calls a shroud in the patent filing, is almost more like a tube with an accordion-like construction. The chutes would be attached to the underside of a drone and would be extended to funnel packages to the drop-off point, whether it's a table, porch, driveway or boat.

In addition to allowing the drone to deliver a package without needing to land on the ground – a problem under some weather conditions - when retracted the shrouds will dampen what some consider the irritating buzzing noise made by drones.

In fact, the patent filing says that a quad-copter drone may have four chutes, and only extend one for a delivery, using the other three for sound insulation.

Once the item was successfully delivered, the drone would retract the shrouds and fly away.

The concept reminds SCDigest of the nylon tubes available to allow office workers to escape from high floors of an building in case of a fire - those chutes slow the descent even from very high locations.

Will this ever see the light of day? As with many of these more outlandish Amazon patents, who knows, but Amazon continues to let the innovation flourish, and SCDigest actually believes these chutes are an idea that is worth exploring.

What are your thoughts on the Istand PickUp or delviery chutes ideas? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below or the link above to send an email.


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