ChannelAdvisor Scot Wingo By Scot Wingo

Amazon’s Prime Now Launches in Raleigh/Durham – We have all the details!

Last night and early today, residents of the Triangle area of NC (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill aka RDU) received the news that Amazon’s 1hr, same-day delivery serviced launched in our region.  I’ve used Prime Now in Atlanta, New York, Boston and Chicago so super-excited to see it launch here.  Also, in those cities the delivery person was either an Amazon employee or an employee of a professional courier company. However, recently, Amazon has been quietly testing a new delivery mechanism that is much more like an Uber/Lyft type of thing called Flex – you can read more here.

I’ve also heard from reporters that the whole Prime Now model is built on tips to couriers, but haven’t previously seen where you can tip.

When the announcement came across, I was curious:

  • Would RDU Prime Now use couriers, Amazonians or Flex drivers?
  • Where are they staging the product?
  • What’s the quality of service going to be like on day one of something new like this?

With those questions in mind, I made my first order.  This blog details the experience here in the RDU area which is a top 30 metro with ~1m people.

Getting ready to use Prime Now

Before starting, Prime Now (as the name implies) is an Amazon Prime benefit, so you need to be a Prime member.

Prime Now is a unique Amazon offering because it is ONLY available via an app and not via a general web interface.  For example, you can’t use it from your desktop or notebook computer.    So in addition to needing to be on Amazon Prime, you need a smartphone.

Therefore, step 1 is downloading the app.  It is called ‘Prime Now’ and here it is on…

After you have downloaded the Prime Now app, you need to log in to your Amazon account.

Also, if this is your first time using Prime Now, there is a coupon code: “10PRIMENOW’ that gives you $10 off your first order!

With your Prime account loaded and your smartphone Prime Now app running, the last thing you have to do is enter your zip code to make sure you can get deliveries to your area: (If you see this you are good to go!).

prime_now_raleigh

Now you are ready to order!

Ordering process

There are two primary ways to find products:

1. Recommended products – the Prime Now app has some topical and personalized product recommendations:

prime_now_recos

2. Search – you need paper towels and some ice cream, you search for those items.

prime_now_search_ice_cream

You have to have $20 in items in your Prime Now cart to place your order.

prime_now_checkout_pg2

When you order, one thing to note is that Amazon goes ahead and puts in a $5 default tip for the courier.  You can go in and edit that if you prefer, and tipping is optional:

prime_now_tip_page

Delivery tracking

One nice feature of Prime Now vs. your normal Amazon experience, is they give you an Uber-esque real-time map of where your order is on its journey from the fulfillment center to your destination.

prime_now_map

In the picture above, I was able to see that the courier was about 5mins away.

Delivery

Products are delivered in Prime Now branded brown paper bags like this:

prime_now_bag2

It turns out that my courier, Tabatha was an independent driver, so Amazon is definitely using the Flex (Uber-like ride sharing system and not ‘owned and operated’ or outsourced couriers.

Tabatha was nice enough to let me get a picture with her (Thanks Tabatha!) 🙂

prime_now_driver2

Conclusion

Prime Now in Raleigh/Durham was an excellent experience.

I was excited to get answers to all my questions:

  • Would RDU Prime Now use couriers, Amazonians or Flex drivers?

They are clearly using Flex and in front of the launch, I learned they had folks ‘fake deliver’ ‘fake packages’ and they would run these tests and give feedback to everyone on how to make it better.

  • Where are they staging the product?

They are staging the product in a 3000-5000 sq-ft facility that is pretty centrally located in the RDU area.

  • What’s the quality of service going to be like on day one of something new like this?

The service was great and I know that personally I’m going to be using this service a ton.

 

Scot Wingo, Executive Chairman of ChannelAdvisor wrote this blog post.

 

Talk to an ExpertRequest A Call