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Amazon’s Mundane New Product Hints At Its All-Encompassing Ambitions

Hub eases this last kink in the UX of Amazon shopping.

Amazon’s Mundane New Product Hints At Its All-Encompassing Ambitions
[Image: Amazon]

Amazon isn’t satisfied with just dispatching your packages; now it wants to play an even more involved role in how they’re delivered. The company’s latest product, called Hub, is designed to act like a mailbox–not just for Amazon mail, but for any packages or deliveries. While it’s not an AI-powered selfie camera like Echo Look, or a major acquisition like Whole Foods, it’s a subtle look at where Amazon is going.

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Targeted primarily at residential building owners, Hub promises that all packages from any sender will be stored safely and securely. Instead of having large packages left at your door, in your lobby, or with a concierge desk, they’re placed within Hub, which has differently sized compartments designed to accommodate most packages. To access your package, you simply enter an access code and one of Hub’s doors will pop open.

[Screenshot: Amazon]
Hub aims to fix one of the few areas of package delivery that Amazon doesn’t yet control: the final step between delivery and your actual home. Currently, when you receive a package depends on the security of your apartment building or the hours of your concierge, if you have one. In some cases, your package might end up delayed for days, lost, or even stolen. Hub eases this last kink in the UX of the Amazon shopping experience, and provides building managers with another option for managing the influx of packages in the era of ubiquitous online shopping and delivery.

It’s also another step in Amazon’s slow march to dominate all retail interactions. If your building has a Hub, you don’t even need to shop from Amazon to interface with the company every time you pick up a package. And who wants to bet that there are opportunities for Hub to offer extra services to Amazon Prime customers? Not to mention the data Amazon could glean from keeping track of any given building’s delivery volume and schedule.

With the recent acquisition of Whole Foods and Amazon’s continued push into groceries, Hub could play a more involved role. Right now, the problem with delivering fresh groceries is that they need to be refrigerated right away–unlike packages, you can’t just leave them for hours in the lobby of a building or on a front porch. Who’s to say that Hub couldn’t become a mailbox-turned-refrigerator, where residents simply order groceries on Amazon and pick them up from the Hub when they get home?

Of course, Amazon will need to reach critical mass first. But by making the last step between ordering a package and that package reaching your hands more reliable, secure, and easy to access, its colossal reach extends even further.

About the author

Katharine Schwab is a contributing writer at Co.Design based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture.

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