As people return to working in the office, picking up Amazon packages and getting gas on the way home can be a simultaneous task. For many convenience stores like Johnny Quik, Amazon Lockers offer a safe and convenient way to pick up online orders.
“I think the neighbourhood appreciates it, and I think the neighbourhood really welcomed us when we opened,” said George Beal, owner of several Johnny Quik Food Stores in the Central Valley.
Beal’s Johnny Quik location at 940 E. Belmont Ave. in Fresno has been open for about a year, and he added an Amazon Locker there two weeks ago. “The lockers are a convenience to the neighbourhood,” Beal said.
Beal said his customers like having the Amazon Locker option in their neighbourhood because they have a safe place to receive their deliveries in the age of “porch pirates” who steal packages from front doors.
Amazon Locker is one of the alternative delivery models under Amazon Hub. Other Amazon Hub options include Locker+ (staffed Locker), Counter (pick ups and returns at store counter) and Apartment Locker (lockers for property managers to operate).
“We get a lot of positive feedback from the neighbourhood, and you can tell that because they’re very appreciative. You’re getting a cross-section from people that stop at that facility,” Beal said.
This particular Johnny Quik convenience store is located off of Highway 180 and Van Ness Avenue, in the Tower District area. The Amazon Lockers are enclosed in metal, and when people order items from Amazon, they select to pick up at a nearby Amazon Locker. Amazon texts the code for customers to enter in a pinpad, located at the locker bank.
Amazon collects packages that aren’t picked up from the locker within three days, and customers can also make returns at the locker. There are several safety factors that a store has to meet in order to qualify as an Amazon Hub, including customer safety and lighting qualifications.
“It’s under a covering, well lit,” Beal said. Another convenience store, Quic Shop in Dinuba, recently added a locker.
Manager Bob Smith said Amazon contacted him directly about adding a locker (though businesses can initiate partnerships through the Amazon Hub section of amazon.com). They conducted a site survey and Smith said the icing on the cake was the security cameras surveilling the lockers. He said the process was relatively simple. “The only thing it needs me for is just power,” Smith said.
Smith said his hope was to be a place where people going to and from work would pick up their packages after work and stop inside for a soda as well. He said there has been a noticeable difference in traffic.
Locations for the lockers range from train stations and shopping centers to universities and corporate offices, and property managers can sign up to install lockers in apartment complexes.
“For an apartment life, to me that would be ideal,” Smith said. Business owners should be aware that the lockers could invite attempted burglary or vandalism. However, customers only have a short time window to pick up their packages to prevent break-ins.
Miguel Arias, Fresno City Council president and member for District 3, recommends businesses place lockers inside the building to avoid public nuisance. Johnny Quik stores operate 24/7, and Arias says the particular convenience store at 940 E. Belmont was vandalized. “It’s the first time I’ve seen them in South Fresno in a 24-hour gas station in the exterior,” Arias said.
Arias says most operate inside the business, which means more eyes are on the lockers at any given moment, preventing break-ins. Food4Less operates 24/7, but the difference, Arias says, is the placement of the lockers.
“It’s normally not safe to operate them outside,” Arias said. He also said that Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping sprees pose a significant threat because of the value they bring with packages in Amazon Lockers.
“We’ve had zero vandalisms and issues with the ones that are in interior businesses,” Arias said.
With people doing more of their shopping online because of the pandemic, business owners say the lockers are a great convenience and safe way to receive packages. But because of the value of the coming shopping season, the lockers need to be located in a safe place.
“They can be a benefit to the neighborhood if they’re secure,” Arias said.