Skip to Content

Amazon’s Latest Delivery Estimate: Two Minutes

August 15, 2017

Jeff Bezos loves speed. First it was next-day delivery with Prime. Then it was same-day. Amazon Now upped the ante with in-the-hour provision of, well, whatever you need inside an hour. And AmazonFresh Pickup has groceries ready for you within 15 minutes.

Amazon’s latest trick is getting an order to you in two minutes flat. It's the e-commerce giant’s new Instant Pickup offering, which is being rolled out at five college campuses, including University of California, Berkeley, with more claimed to be on the way.

The service isn’t quite as impressive at it may seem at first blush. Customers order from a list of several hundred popular items via the Amazon app—think headphones, candy, and, naturally, Echo Dot smart speakers. Employees then scurry around a storage room, pop the items into a locker within a couple of minutes, and send the customer a bar code that can be used to unlock a door and retrieve the loot. Definitely fast, but not the kind of full-on choice that you might have hoped for.

By this point, of course, it’s clear that Amazon wants to take over physical retail as well as digital, with its recent acquisition of Whole Foods, real-life bookstores, and a range of retail experiments taking place in Seattle. With Instant Pickup, though, it seems to be taking a weirdly labor-intensive aim at ... vending machines. And Amazon's director of student programs, Ripley MacDonald, tells Reuters as much, explaining that he sees the system being perfect for ordering a can of soda, and even going so far as saying that the firm considered, but ultimately rejected, full automation of the service.

Deep Dive


Our best illustrations of 2022

Our artists’ thought-provoking, playful creations bring our stories to life, often saying more with an image than words ever could.

How CRISPR is making farmed animals bigger, stronger, and healthier

These gene-edited fish, pigs, and other animals could soon be on the menu.

The Download: the Saudi sci-fi megacity, and sleeping babies’ brains

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology. These exclusive satellite images show Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway In early 2021, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia announced The Line: a “civilizational revolution” that would house up…

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.