Amazon Could Turn Malls Into Glorified Fulfillment Centers

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Amazon has long been accused of turning brick-and-mortar stores into showrooms for products that people ultimately decide to purchase online. Now the company is reportedly experimenting with using these retailers into fulfillment centers for customers who want same-day delivery.

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Bloomberg reports(Opens in a new window) that Amazon has been tasking Amazon Flex drivers with transporting products from local malls to Amazon shoppers. This experiment is said to be live in at least three cities across the US: Chandler, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Tysons Corner, Virginia.

Amazon users might never realize the stuff they bought was delivered from a nearby mall. Bloomberg reports that Amazon simply lists products available for same-day delivery, and if someone orders something, an Amazon Flex driver picks it up from the partner retailer.

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This setup makes Amazon the middleman for pretty much every aspect of the shopping experience. The products are listed on its online marketplace, purchased by its customers, and delivered by its drivers; the brick-and-mortar stores are essentially just fulfillment centers.

But that might be a better fate than many of those stores would’ve had otherwise. Vacancies at malls across the US have been rising for years, and as The New York Times reported(Opens in a new window) in August 2021, the pandemic hasn’t been kind to these former hotspots of American commerce.

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A spokesperson told Bloomberg that “this is just another way we are able to connect Amazon sellers with customers via convenient delivery options.” They also said only a “handful” of the company’s partners are participating in these experiments, but declined to share anything else.

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