Expands Product Pickup Lockers to San Fran Bay Area

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NEW YORK -- has been installing large metal cabinets in grocery, drug and convenience stores, including 7-Elevens Inc. locations in Seattle, New York state and near Washington, D.C., for about a year. Now, the giant Internet retailer is expanding its Amazon Lockers service in San Francisco, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Amazon's online customers can have their purchases shipped to the lockers for pickup later. The program aims to address the concerns of some urban apartment dwellers who fear they'll miss a delivery or have their items stolen from their doorstep.

"The home-delivery challenge has always been an issue for e-commerce in Europe and Japan, and is growing in the U.S., especially as thieves have moved into the game," said Fiona Dias, chief strategy officer for ShopRunner, which facilitates two-day delivery at about 60 retailers. "It's easy to follow a UPS truck around and steal packages from doorsteps," she told the Journal.

Because Amazon doesn't have stores like traditional retailers, such as Walmart and Best Buy, which allow their online customers to pick up merchandise at their stores, the online-only giant must partner with other outlets that will provide space for the lockers.

The addition of the Northern California locations brings to at least 50 the number of lockers that Amazon has in the U.S., according to its website. The Seattle-based company also offers lockers in the U.K. and is "adding new Amazon Locker locations every week," according to its website.

The four U.S. cities with Amazon Lockers in place are in states that already charge Amazon customers sales tax, or have plans to do so within the next year. It's unclear if future locker sites would trigger a sales tax, according to the Journal article.

Customers who ship their item to a locker, at a 7-Eleven, for example, are emailed a code after a package arrives. The code unlocks the door holding their merchandise. The lockers can hold only smaller items that weigh less than 10 pounds, such as books, DVDs and electronic devices like iPads. Shoppers have several days to retrieve their purchases.

While users don't pay extra for the service, the locker program helps Amazon save on certain shipping costs. It is more efficient to deliver multiple packages to a business address and failed deliveries are expensive to the online retailer.

Amazon guarantees delivery to its lockers, many of them located in sites that are open 24 hours. The online retailer pays a small fee each month to the retailer which houses its lockers.