AmazonLocker1We’ve discussed Amazon’s pickup-locker initiative before, as a potentially-handy installation Amazon could put into convenience stores and other physical locations to provide a safe way to retrieve Amazon deliveries for customers who don’t have any other good delivery drop location. But what about putting them in libraries?

The UK government has issued a report on a pilot program that saw lockers installed in three large libraries in West Sussex in the United Kingdom. The lockers were installed in December 2012 and have been in place ever since. The only major installation expense was a phone line, whose costs Amazon covered.

The report notes:

The lockers:

  • provide a regular income for these libraries
  • are a popular service for customers
  • have no impact on staff time
  • are used by between 80 and 100 people in each location a week
  • bring people into the library
  • are used by non and existing library users; it is very difficult to assess if there is much crossover

It seems like a positive outcome all around—the lockers see a lot of use, bring people into the library, and also provide the library with additional revenue. What’s more, since libraries aren’t in the business of selling goods, Amazon doesn’t risk having them decide they don’t want to help their biggest “competitor” and back out, as Staples and Radio Shack did in 2013. I’m only surprised we haven’t seen the program expanded by now. Perhaps the real question is whether paying to have the lockers installed is really cost-effective for Amazon.

Of course, Amazon knows exactly what orders are delivered to those lockers, and it can easily crunch the numbers to figure out what effect having the lockers available has on those customers’ purchases. I would assume that if the lockers do turn out to be profitable, sooner or later we will see more of them. But given that the lockers have been around for several years now and there hasn’t yet been a major rollout, maybe Amazon is still trying to figure out the best way to use them.


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