By Gemma James, Mundays Law
Congested roads and road works are not viable excuses for a late delivery when customers are promised Amazon’s ‘Prime Now’ service. Now, there is the possibility that Amazon will start using the London underground so that customers receive their goods within two hours of ordering them online. Amazon is already pioneering new ideas in order to fast forward its delivery service. You have probably heard of its plans for drone delivery and the more readily available click-and-collect. Now the underground system seems to be their next target.
It is already in action on the New York subway, as well as in other US cities Miami and Dallas, with Amazon believing it is a more cost-efficient way of delivering goods to its customers, while easing congestion and air pollution. However the New York subway’s system is more feasible than the London underground – it operates 24 hours a day and offers express services stopping only at major destinations.
With roads becoming more expensive to travel on and more congested, a rethink may be needed by traditional logistics companies if they wish to stay ahead of the game and keep up with the growing demand for faster services because of the increasing retail outlets available online.
Could this system be easily replicated on the London underground? Concerns have been raised about this: with rush hour trains already difficult for commuters to clamber onto, the idea of packages taking up extra space could create widespread frustration. The underground is also not free of delays, and has been known to suffer from occasional strike action. However with certain lines running 24 hours a day from September this year it may well create a suitable alternative to couriering parcels through London’s gridlocked streets.
There could be more hurdles in place than is worth Amazon’s while, such as the cost of creating collection points along with the issue of storage capacity in central London stations. Would commuters potentially face an increase in ticket fares? As part of the click-and-collect service, Amazon has locker systems at various locations around the UK so customers can collect their orders, including two London stations, Finchley Central and Newbury Park.
It will be interesting to see whether Amazon’s ideas will actually come to fruition in the near future, and what the reception would be from passengers, Transport for London, and logistics companies. As far as we can tell for now, the service could be more of a hindrance than a benefit to businesses and residents of London but we are willing to be proved wrong!