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Amazon looks to expand delivery beyond home, office

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Kai Ryssdal: Continuing with the theme of changes digital technology has wrought, there’s this. The next time you stop by a 7-Eleven for a Slurpee, you might also be able to pick up that package you ordered from Amazon. Amazon is outfitted 7-Elevens in a couple of test markets with what it’s calling “Amazon Lockers.” So packages don’t have to be sent to your home or office.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer explains.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Here’s how the Amazon lockers work: When you order, you click on the shipping address of the locker near you. When your package arrives, Amazon sends you an email with a code. You go to your local 7-Eleven. We went to one in Arlington, Va., just outside of Washington. The Amazon Locker was kitty corner from the cat food. It’s about 10 feet long, and as tall as your refrigerator. You punch in your code. And, viola.  here’s that shiny new Kindle you ordered.

Sucharita Mulpuru is an online retail analyst at Forrester Research.

Sucharita Mulpuru: I think they’re aiming at late adopters to the Internet or people who, for whatever reason have hesitated purchasing products from Amazon.

Maybe they’re afraid their pricey packages will be stolen from their doorsteps or rained on. Or maybe, says Katherine Hutt of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, it’s none of our business.

Katherine Hutt: People don’t want people they live or work with to see what they’re ordering. I’m not sure.

Larry Weber is head of W2Group, a digital marketing firm. He says Amazon might be thinking way outside the box, imagining a time when we order something in the morning, and pull it out of an Amazon Locker in the afternoon.

Larry Weber: Almost like your salad for lunch.

Weber says Amazon could piggyback on 7-Eleven’s just-in-time delivery system.

Amazon itself is being cagey about its plans. My repeated emails and phone calls to the company were not returned by deadline.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall-Genzer for Marketplace.

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