San Francisco Chronicle
Amazon is ready to handle holiday procrastinators
Online retailer says it won’t be caught off guard by late demand
Everything from cinnamon powder to laundry detergent packs shelves in a nondescript building in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood. And if you live in the city, Amazon can get anything inside it to your doorstep within two hours.
Amazon Prime Now is part of the trend toward near-instantaneous delivery via app, offering almost everything needed for daily life. If you pay Amazon’s $99-a-year Prime subscription, you can get tens of thousands
Amazon workers load carts with orders for Prime Now drivers at the company’s San Francisco warehouse.
of items, including household supplies, groceries and electronics. And during the holidays, Prime customers can order last-minute gifts, such as an Amazon Echo Dot or Bose headphones, up until 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
On Thursday, as the holiday rush intensified, dozens of associates buzzed around the sprawling warehouse, picking things like shampoo and candy off the shelves and placing them in brown bags. Within the next two hours, those bags will be loaded
“Customers will be surprised at how much they can get.” Simoina Vasen, director of Amazon Prime Now, on late Christmas rush
into a car and delivered somewhere in San Francisco.
The promise of such rapid delivery during the holidays is a far cry from 2013, when the online giant was caught off guard by a huge surge in last-minute demand. Some Amazon Prime customers didn’t get their packages by Christmas, despite ordering on time.
As consumers’ delivery demands have shifted from two days to two hours, Amazon faces plenty of competition. San Francisco is home turf for Postmates, DoorDash, Instacart, Uber and Square, all of which deliver meals, goods or a combination of both. But Amazon has the advantage of a familiar brand name, hundreds of millions of customers and a finely tuned supply chain.
Outside the Bay Area, Prime Now is offered in dozens of cities, including smaller markets such as Columbus, Ohio; Virginia Beach, Va.; and Raleigh, N.C. But Simoina Vasen, director of Prime Now, said the company has plans to expand even further. As online ordering becomes increasingly popular, Amazon has added more Prime Now fulfillment centers around the country.
“We anticipate it will just get bigger,” Vasen said. “Customers will be surprised at how much they can get.”