Amazon just unveiled an alternative to vending machines

For its latest service offering, Amazon is reinventing the vending machine.

Called Amazon Instant Pickup, the new service will allow customers to pick up items within minutes of ordering them, according to Reuters. That’s faster than the hours that Amazon Prime Now requires, and much faster than traditional shipping options.

Customers order from the Amazon app and use a barcode to access their purchase, which can include snacks, drinks, and essentials like phone chargers. The Instant Pickup lockers are filled by an Amazon employee within minutes of an order coming through.

The service is designed for impulse, need-it-now purchases, and it uses Amazon locations already in operation for traditional pickups on college campuses.

Think of Instant Pickup like a large vending machine with its own staff of one. An Amazon spokesperson told Reuters that some items may be cheaper if you choose to buy them with Instant Pickup instead of through traditional shipping, but they did not go into more detail on specific pricing.

Instant Pickup gives Amazon yet another foothold in the physical world, which it is increasingly occupying after announcing it would purchase Whole Foods for $US13.7 billion this year.

Instant Pickup is already available in two locations: UC Berkeley and UCLA. Amazon will expand the service to its 22 college campus locations by the end of this year. Like most new Amazon services, it’s only for Prime customers.

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