San Francisco Chronicle

Amazon is ready to han­dle hol­i­day pro­cras­ti­na­tors

On­line re­tailer says it won’t be caught off guard by late de­mand

- By Tr­isha Thadani

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.”

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 ?? Michael Ma­cor / The Chron­i­cle ??
Michael Ma­cor / The Chron­i­cle

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