In Amazon’s crusade to fill every nook and cranny of the known universe with smirking cardboard boxes, nowhere is safe.
Given the name ‘Counter’, Amazon announced a new program today in which it will partner with Rite Aid to essentially turn those retail locations—an estimated 1,500 by year’s end—into package holding facilities for the
e-commerce giant’s shipments. Amazon is also looking for other chains to partner with that won’t mind moonlighting as warehouses.
What’s a bit baffling about Counter is that it seems no different from Amazon’s existing campaign to install Lockers all over creation, where they’re called “pickup points.” In the vicinity of my apartment, locations for Lockers include a Mattress Firm, 7-11, Western Beef, and a Century 21. Since buying Whole Foods Market just about two years ago, Amazon has stuffed Lockers in a good number of those locations as well with some success.
Counter also isn’t wildly different from Amazon’s plan to sell building owners on building Lockers into their multi-occupant residences, which it calls Apartment Lockers. It also dovetails with plans to get consumers to install Amazon-branded smarthome products that turn your home garage or car’s trunk into Lockers.
Perhaps money is changing hands as part of the Counter program, though independent studies have shown that participating in Amazon’s scheme leads to an increase in sales, but from an outsider’s perspective it appears that Amazon is gaining access to space they do not own at the space-owner’s expense: Key, Ring, and Apartment Lockers aren’t free. It’s also unclear if independent chains, like that 7-11, pay the cost of Locker installation, or if Rite Aid will pay its workers for the labor of fetching packages for what are effectively non-customers.