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Amazon, Late to the Party, Introduces One-Hour Delivery in New York

Prime Now deliveries will cost $7.99 for one-hour delivery, but will be free if you can handle waiting two hours for your goods.

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Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Amazon wants to deliver your stuff even faster. The company on Thursday introduced a new program called Prime Now, which allows its Prime members to get items delivered in just one hour for $7.99. Customers willing to wait two hours can get delivery for free.

The program is currently only available in one ZIP Code — west of the Empire State Building — with items being delivered from a mixed-use building on 34th Street that Amazon recently leased. Amazon said it will expand the program to other parts of New York soon and more cities next year.

The retailer’s push into one-hour delivery comes as a rash of startups have already beat Amazon to the punch in popularizing the idea of instant gratification. Instacart, which is closing an investment that values the startup at around $2 billion, employs a network of contractors who pick up and deliver groceries from well-known chains such as Whole Foods and Costco. It’s available in more than a dozen cities.

Postmates, another San Francisco-based startup, also employs a network of contract delivery people ferrying all types of goods to homes in under an hour. While it began mainly with food delivery, it allows online retailers and brick-and-mortar businesses to plug into its courier network for one-hour delivery. Online apparel brand Everlane is currently offering one-hour and two-hour deliveries in Manhattan and San Francisco in partnership with Postmates.

Then there’s Deliv, which is working as a white-label, on-demand delivery service for retailers such as Macy’s. Google also has its own same-day service called Google Express, which delivers goods from big chains such as Walgreens. Re/code previously reported the search giant is willing to spend up to $500 million to take on Amazon in the space, since it increasingly poses a threat to Google’s lucrative product advertising business. The service’s future became a little cloudy recently when its leader, Tom Fallows, left for a job at Uber, which has also experimented with super-quick food and everyday goods deliveries.

Despite the head start from competitors, Amazon has a ton of advantages and could end up winning what is becoming a fast-growing area of e-commerce.

Prime customers who want to use Prime Now appear to have to order items through a special smartphone app, which is available in Apple, Google and Amazon app stores. The app says more than 25,000 items, including everyday household goods, are available for one-hour delivery. Not surprisingly, Amazon’s own devices such as the Fire TV streaming box and the Kindle are also available.

The program is part of Amazon’s plan to continue to create products and services that are exclusively available to members of its Prime program, which costs $99 a year. Prime members, according to several research studies, are by far Amazon’s best customers, spending double what non-Prime customers spend on Amazon in a given year. Earlier this month, Amazon unveiled its own line of diapers and baby wipes available only to Prime customers.

This article originally appeared on

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