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Amazon Launches Instant Pickup, Lands in Trump Crosshairs

Amazon remains at least one step ahead of retail when it comes to deliveries.

On the same day Target announces the acquisition of a last-mile company to facilitate same-day deliveries, Amazon bows Instant Pickup, which ensures fulfillment in two minutes. Typical.

The e-commerce juggernaut is providing near instant gratification with Instant Pickup, a free service for a select group of Prime and Prime Student account holders. Using the Amazon app shoppers near one of five Instant Pickup locations can order daily essentials like snacks, personal care items, phone chargers and other electronics, including Amazon devices, and pick them up at a self-service locker.

Currently the service is offered at existing Amazon pickup locations that are on or near a college campus in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Berkeley, California, Columbus, Ohio, and College Park, Maryland. The retailer plans to roll it out to more locations in the coming months.

The innovation is Amazon’s latest move toward physical store territory. The online retailer already operates seven bookstores, is slated to close its Whole Foods acquisition later this year and is still tinkering with its Amazon Go, cashier-less convenience store model.

In addition to stores and pickup locations, Amazon already operates more than 70 fulfillment centers in the U.S. and that number continues to grow. The next one is slated to open in Kannapolis, North Carolina, just a few miles from its Concord location. The 1 million square foot, $85 million distribution center will mean 600 new full time jobs for the area.

The retailer is also expanding in the U.K., where it has 12 distribution centers and four more on the way before the year ends. The latest location to be announced will open in 2018 in Bristol. The new facility will employ 1,000 people.

Amazon, which rarely goes a day without making headlines, would probably prefer to have sat the latest news cycle out. In an early morning tweet, President Trump called out the retail giant for undermining other retailers and causing job losses through failure to pay state sales taxes.

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Online retailers skirting state sales taxes has been a contentious issue for some time since they’re only required to do so if they have a physical location there. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates this practice costs states $17.2 billion.

Though Amazon now collects sales taxes in all states that require it, it hasn’t always done so. Plus, it does not automatically collect sales taxes on purchases through its marketplace. Sellers using its platform can use the state sales tax feature but it’s not a mandatory setting.

While it is not clear what set him off this time, it’s not the first time Amazon has caught the president’s attention. The company’s owner, Jeff Bezos, also owns The Washington Post, a publication that hasn’t pulled any punches when reporting on the current administration.