Inside Amazon's urban warehouse

In Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) quest to deliver goods efficiently and quickly, the retailer has tried more than a few eyebrow-raising devices. There are bikes and cars and crowdsourced delivery services, lockers and partnerships with other retailers to provide pick-up facilities.

And of course, there are the drones and, more recently, rumors that Amazon will build up its own delivery fleet of airplanes.

But there are also warehouses, including one in an unlikely location: Midtown Manhattan.

The 50,000-square-foot warehouse sits across the street from the Empire State Building and is situated to deliver goods to members of Amazon's Prime program who have access to Prime Now, a two-hour delivery service available in 23 cities. Prime Now eligible items are largely groceries and other daily necessities that shoppers need right away.

It's also positioned to compete with third-party services such as Deliv and Instacart, which have partnered with other retailers including Target and Whole Foods.

The New York City facility opened in December 2014, and was Amazon's first. The company has since opened dozens more, according to reports. It's a pared-down version of Amazon's typical 1-million-square-foot distribution centers, smack in the middle of the United States's most expensive real estate.  

"We're standing right in the center of Manhattan. That's both a blessing and a challenge," Stephenie Landry, the worldwide director of Prime Now, told c/net. "This is a pricey place for real estate, but it also means we can get to customers in less than an hour."

There is some debate as to whether there will ever be big demand for one- or two-hour delivery, or if it will be profitable for retailers to provide it. But conquering the urban centers where such services are more likely to be used is critical—for Amazon and most big-box retailers—to expand.

For more:
-See the this CNET story

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