If you live in Manhattan, getting batteries - or tens of thousands of other daily essentials - just got a bit easier, and you don't even have get off your sofa. Amazon announced the launch of Prime Now, a one-hour delivery service for customers who are members of Amazon's $99-per-year Prime service. This service will deliver shampoo, books, batteries and other products to Prime members in 60 minutes or less for a fee.
For its kickoff, Prime Now is limited to certain areas of Manhattan. But Amazon said the service will launch in more cities in 2015. Anyone who downloads the mobile app can receive a notice when the service arrives in his or her area.
It marks yet another way that Amazon is striving to compete with other online retailers as well as local retail outlets by offering quicker ways to get orders to a customer's door. The company already offers same-day delivery on groceries and dry goods in certain markets. It also provides a "Get it Today" feature that that promises same-day delivery on a range of other products, such as computers, printers, books, home appliances, first aid and travel accessories. Amazon has even been experimenting with delivery via drones and with its own shipping network.
Amazon also continues to devise ways to enhance the appeal of its Prime subscription service and make it worth the cost, which earlier this year jumped to $99 a year from $79. Beyond the new Prime Now feature, Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping, a large library of Prime Instant streaming movies and TV shows, Prime Music and Prime Photos.
With the Prime Now mobile app, available in the iOS, Android and Amazon app stores, Prime members can order items from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Two-hour delivery is free. To get an order in one hour or less, there is a $7.99 fee.
Non-Prime members can download the app and browse available items, but ordering is only permitted for Prime members. The app works like any shopping app, including search and browse functions, with shopping cart ordering. After an order is placed, the app offers tracking capabilities. Amazon will use part of its new building on 34th Street in Manhattan to act as a hub to deliver orders to customers.