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Amazon Offering Lockers For Secure Product Delivery

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An Amazon product locker (CBS)

An Amazon product locker (CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (CNET) – Amazon Lockers, the e-retail giant’s answer to Best Buy’s in-store pickup, appears to be expanding on the West Coast.

Amazon has quietly started placing lockers in the San Francisco Bay area, The Wall Street Journal is reporting today. The company hasn’t yet said how many Lockers sites it has opened, but the rollout indicates its seriousness in giving customers another option for getting their hands on purchased products.

Amazon Lockers launched last year as part of a concerted effort on the e-retail company’s part to offer a quasi-in-store pickup service, similar to those offered at Best Buy and Wal-mart. After purchasing a product through Amazon.com, customers can choose to have it delivered to a specified locker at a location where Amazon’s service is available free of additional charge. Once delivered, the customer has three days to pick up the product from the locker before it’s sent back for a full refund.

Since the lockers are somewhat small, Amazon will only ship smaller packages weighing less than 10 pounds.

The lockers are currently available in Seattle, New York, and the Washington, D.C. area in the U.S. Amazon has started to roll out lockers to London, as well. The lockers are commonly found in markets, small stores, and parking areas, and have also been rolled out to some 7-Eleven stores.

For Amazon, expanding its Lockers service isn’t easy. For one thing, the company needs to determine which cities would benefit most from the rollout. From there, Amazon must enter into deals with vendors to rent space for the lockers.

Still, Amazon Lockers could be a cost-saving opportunity for the company, which is dogged by rising shipping costs. By having a central location to send products, Amazon can cut down on failed delivery attempts that increase costs with a return visit. Plus, the company is sending a shipment company to one place where it’s guaranteed to deliver all of the products. It’s not clear, however, how much Amazon could save with Lockers.

CNET has contacted Amazon for comment on other cities in which it might launch its Lockers service. We will update this story when we have more information.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and CBS Interactive. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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