Business & Real Estate

Here’s the problem with those Amazon lockers

Amazon.com lockers, which are now at many Sacramento-area retail sites, allow online shoppers to retrieve their orders in a secure setting and thwart would-be porch package thieves. This one is at a Sacramento Safeway.
Amazon.com lockers, which are now at many Sacramento-area retail sites, allow online shoppers to retrieve their orders in a secure setting and thwart would-be porch package thieves. This one is at a Sacramento Safeway. mglover@sacbee.com

Amazon.com lockers started showing up en masse at Sacramento-area retail sites this fall, allowing online shoppers to retrieve Amazon orders in a secure setting and thwart would-be package thieves.

But as some Amazon users have discovered, the high volume of holiday packages sometimes means the bright yellow lockers are full, leaving shoppers to opt for sending packages home or elsewhere.

40Number of Amazon lockers at Sacramento-area retailers including 7-Eleven, Safeway, Spirit and Circle K

Amazon has touted the lockers as a more secure way to make deliveries, with no packages sitting unattended on front porches, a temptation for roaming thieves, also known as “porch pirates.”

Even so, in September, Amazon officials privately conceded that the number of online orders might exceed the available space in lockers during the holiday season, a situation the company said it planned to monitor.

Amazon spokesman Jim Billimoria said there are about 40 lockers in the Sacramento area. The Seattle-based retailer said it has no hard numbers of how many customers have been locked out of Amazon Locker deliveries.

He did, however, note this: “We do handle a lot of orders.”

On Cyber Monday in 2015, Billimoria said Amazon customers ordered more than 54 million items worldwide, which equated to a record-breaking 629 items per second.

By all indications, it was even busier this year. Monday’s overall online sales binge in the United States alone hit a record $3.45 billion, up 12 percent over 2015, according to Adobe Digital Insights.

Amazon officials said number of online orders might exceed the available locker space during the holiday shopping season.

Billimoria said the retail giant recently upgraded its checkout system to “gray out” full lockers within a given geographic area. Previously, a customer at Amazon’s online checkout page had to go through a list of local lockers one by one to determine if space was available.

Amazon.com shoppers select the locker they’d like for delivery when checking out. When the package arrives, the customer receives an email and text message with a code to retrieve their order.

Locally, most of the lockers are in Safeway markets, but 7-Eleven, Sprint stores and Circle K also have them.

Officials noted earlier this year that the program was in its early stages and might expand over time. Along that line, the number of lockers in the Sacramento area has nearly doubled in just the past couple of months.

Amazon, which launched the lockers in 2011, has since installed them nationwide. Lockers can be found at amazon.com/findalocker.

Billimoria declined to speculate on how many lockers might be installed locally over the next year.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

Package safety tips

Retailers, police and security experts offer numerous recommendations to prevent theft. Here are a few:

▪ Have your package mailed to your place of work, if possible.

▪ Opt to have the parcel delivery service hold the package at a local facility until you can pick it up. You can also specify that all packages delivered to your address require a signature.

▪ Have the package delivered to a trusted neighbor or friend, preferably someone typically at home throughout the day.

▪ If ordering from a major retailer, have the package delivered to a nearby store for pickup.

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