Amazon launches collection points at Next stores

Image source, Reuters

Amazon has launched a service for customers to collect parcels from pick-up points inside Next shops.

The new service is called Amazon Counter, and Next said its participation would help the chain stay relevant in a tough retail environment.

UK shops have been struggling with many pressures, including competition from online retailers such as Amazon.

Customers of the online giant can already pick up parcels using the Amazon Lockers service.

Next chief executive Lord Wolfson said Amazon customers would be able to use "hundreds" of Next's UK stores to pick up packages.

"In a tough retail environment, our aim is that Amazon Counter will contribute to the continued relevance and vibrancy of our stores," he said.

A number of retailers went out of business last year, including Poundworld, Toys R Us and Maplin, while other well-known names, including Mothercare and New Look, negotiated restructuring deals with their landlords and closed hundreds of stores.

The pressure has continued this year, and last week creditors at struggling department store chain Debenhams backed a turnaround plan that will see the closure of 50 stores and rent reductions for others.

Along with technology driving a shift to shopping online, UK stores have faced higher business rates and rising labour costs.

Image source, Newscast

Many retailers have responded to online pressures by upping their internet shopping game.

For example, Marks and Spencer signed a deal with online grocer Ocado in February to give the High Street retailer a home delivery service for the first time from next year.

Amazon's new Counter service is in addition to its Amazon Lockers pick-up points, which are located in some supermarkets and petrol stations.

Customers can also collect from Post Office shops and Doddle parcel pick-up locations.

Amazon is also launching its Counter service in Italy, where it has teamed up with bookstore chain Giunti and the network of Fermopoint and SisalPay stores.

Research company Global Data predicts that click and collect will make up more than 12% of online sales by 2023, but that closures of High Street shops will hamper collection services.