By Lisa Baertlein
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -Amazon.com is offering U.S. customers $10 to pick up a purchase rather than have it shipped to a home address, as the e-commerce giant joins other retailers in racing to slash costs for home delivery and returns amid slack consumer demand.
Amazon said the promotion is not a cost-cutting measure and that it applies to customers who have never used Amazon Pickup or have not used that service in the last 12 months.
“We offer customers a variety of ways to get their packages, inclusive of delivery and pickup options. The $10 Amazon Pickup promotion isn’t new,” the company said in a statement. Amazon did not say for how long this or similar pickup promotions have been in use.
Amazon over the last few days has emailed an undisclosed number of its shoppers offering them $10 to retrieve an order of $25 or more at company pickup points at locations such as Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh or Kohl’s stores.
Upstate New York-based shipping consultant Dean Maciuba was among the customers who received the offer.
Increasing use of Amazon pickup locations would help the company bypass costly residential package dropoffs and is “a huge opportunity for Amazon to reduce the cost of delivery,” Maciuba said.
It also helps train consumers to tender returns directly to the company, he said.
Amazon separately has started charging some customers a $1 fee if they return packages via a United Parcel Service store when there is an Amazon pickup/return location closer to their delivery address, a change first reported by The Information news site.
Shipping companies UPS and FedEx have encouraged customers to use so-called access points, particularly in rural areas where delivering to far-flung addresses can be cost-prohibitive.
Amazon worked for years to train consumers to expect fast, no-fee deliveries and returns. As the company tightens its belt after a period of explosive growth, it has made numerous moves to reduce delivery-related costs across the company.
Amazon late last year hiked the price of its annual Prime subscription that includes free shipping benefits by $20 to $139. It also has raised minimum order thresholds for free grocery delivery, encouraged customers to have all of their packages delivered on a designated day of the week, and expanded speedier same-day parcel delivery with a fee for orders under $25.
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Sandra Maler)