Monday, September 12, 2011

Amazon to offer delivery of packages to 7-Eleven Lockers

AMAZON'S DELIVERY LOCKERS - Sept. 12, 2011 GeekWire has photos of one of the coming Amazon delivery locker systems to be housed by 7-Eleven.  These were taken or posted on September 5.  John Holdcroft (@johnholdsea) tweeted this particular story by GeekWire.

  It's been in the news that Amazon and 7-Eleven have been in talks on this, but it seemed a done-deal by this Sept. 5 report.  For those who have reason not to trust delivery to their doors when they're not at home, this will be an alternative.  At first, last week, I thought "Whaaat?" and pictured boxes left behind the counters :-)

  As you can see, in the larger version of the photo by Rebecca Lovell in a later story, there's a screen with a pin-code mechanism that looks a bit like a Verseteller.
  GeekWire's John Cook and his 2-year old explorer son had investigated the scene at 1522 East Madison Street's 7-Eleven in Seattle earlier when the lockers weren't ready..  They were told the lockers would be activated on Friday (the 9th). The larger photo of the now-active screen shows "Amazon Locker" at the top left.

They're not in actual (official) use yet, and they seem to be going through testing.  Amazon's not saying, so deliveries to Amazon customes haven't been set up in that case.

  I guess eventually these will be considered evidence of "physical presence" in the states that need tax collection by out-of-state companies .

Customers will get an email notification with a bar code used to get a pin number for keyboard entry.  The UK will get these also, and GeekWire says they'll "be located near the public toilets at the One New Change shopping center," going live this week.

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  1. Another good move by Amazon. I just wish this scheme was coming from UPS or FedEx. It gives the giant retailer advantages that smaller retailers don't have. If the idea came from a shipping company, any retailer could use it.

    This illustrates my feelings about Amazon to near perfection. One side of me wants a company that innovates and takes risks to be rewarded. In the ebook arena, for instance, Amazon is innovating the socks off everyone else. But the other side of me doesn't feel comfortable with a company growing so big that they gain advantages denied to other companies.

    Amazon's pending California tax-break is an illustration. If California wants to give Amazon a year-long tax break for books sold in California, why isn't the state also giving physical bookstores that same tax break? Quite a few of them may not be around when Amazon finally starts paying taxes in a state where Amazon has numerous, full-time employees, including their Kindle developers.

  2. Michael,
    Larger companies and richer individuals always have advantages that the smaller or less-rich ones don't. That's not ideal in a socially-conscious world but a reality.

    UPS and FedEx would have to host and pay for holding places in each city where the lockers exist - not very likely! With advantages come the need to pay for them.

    Nothing's been written about whether there'd be an extra charge for this, but it's not unlikely there'd be one.

    As for California and tax 'breaks' -- Internet businesses base non-other-state tax collection on the 1992 Supreme Court decision that, in effect, said No to states requiring that companies operating in other states do the local state's tax collection for the state, unless there is a strong physical sales presence (normally 'staff' or employees) that would constitute substantial nexus in the state and/or they have subsidiaries in the state that are not run independently-- that don't have independent management structures.
    Amazon's Lab 126 was structured, I read, with independent management (probably for that reason).

    State tax collection is required from businesses with a strong physical local presence based on the need for police and fire protection, water, roads, transport.

    Websites with referral links are more on a par with radio and tv stations that advertise products, giving viewers/listeners website information and telephone numbers and telling you to order such and such $$ and here is where you do it.

    The broadcasting companies are not considered sales staff, and neither should website 'publishers' be. "Independence" of staff is an important concept in the rulings, from what I remember.

    The joke is in the idea that Amazon has a physical sales force (normally called 'employees') of 10,000 in California, each having "facilities" in the state.

    No, they're independents who apply linked-referrals to places like Amazon, Linkshare, Commission Junction, Barnes & Noble, Walmart etc.

    The Box retailers don't want mail-order companies with no real presence in a state to have tax-collection advantages but then the mail-order companies have the individual shipment costs and delayed delivery.

    California and other states don't like the Supreme rulings that the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Congress and the courts have the power to strike down laws that burden interstate commerce.

    Some experts have considered the new state bills unconstitutional, while other experts say that the Supreme Court ruling of 1992 (and before) is "outdated"...

    That's not how it goes with Supreme Court rulings. You don't just call them 'outdated.'

    So, Amazon has been on record as going for Congress to pass a standardized national law. Almost all on each side of this situation are for it. But Congress is slow. The interstate commerce laws don't support the idea of one state demanding local-tax-related activity by entities sending products to another state when they don't have a "substantial nexus" in that state. Mail order was considered "insufficient nexus"...

    See the wording in the rulings pointed to and described by The Tax Foundation.

    No time to go into this in more detail tonight though...


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