Amazon Pick Up spot coming to Illini Union Bookstore

This article was created by a Technology Services student employee. Our student employees attend, engage, and report on campus events that feature technology. Students provide a unique perspective on how innovations in technology affect campus life.

By Meghan McCoy, English, '18

When a student comes to college, one of the first things they’ll be able to sign up for, beyond new clubs and classes, is an Amazon Student Prime Account. This account lets any college student receive free two-day shipping on thousands of items for six months, as well unlimited access to movies, books, and music.

That is something that comes from having a university email address. And Amazon Student Prime has helped many students in tight financial spots with their automatic free shipping and often lower prices.

But what if you realized a few days into class that you accidentally bought the wrong book, or you lost your textbook and had a test next week? Or even worse, your parents were coming in a few hours to visit for your mom’s birthday and you forgot to order her a gift in advance?

In the face of these dilemmas, or for even just day to day purchases, this moment is where Amazon@Illinois becomes a student’s saving grace. The first Amazon Pick Up location in Illinois, Amazon@Illinois will be conveniently located in the same building as the Illini Union Bookstore, so students won’t even have to search on Google Maps for the new pick up location.

Most of us are familiar with the version of Amazon where you order a product online and then it is delivered to your set address within a given time frame. What is different, and also assures peace of mind for those who have had bad experiences of delivered packages disappearing, is that what you order at Amazon@Illinois is delivered directly to the store and you pick it up in person. This in-person pick up option, along with free shipping and the ease of the pick up location, is something we’ll all be able to look forward to.

Temple Montagueo, a Senior in Human Development and Family Studies, was especially happy to hear about these additions. “I think it’s really convenient,” she explained. “Also it helps with safety, knowing that Amazon is keeping track of the items you’ve purchased.” Since we’ve all experienced worrying about something we’ve ordered mysteriously not showing up on our front steps, then this feature is something that works for everyone.

Also, with Amazon@Illinois if a student orders within a specific time frame then they will typically have free same-day shipping. For most students, same day shipping means no more worrying about not having the correct textbook in time. As Todd Petrie, the Director of the Illini Union Bookstore, said, “It’s a win for students because they’re going to have free Amazon Prime for six months, and then half price for the whole time they’re here with free shipping and access to over two million items. And they’re also going to have a management staff here who will be able to take returns.”

Amazon Prime, free shipping, and a staff will be able to take returns? This lineup is the definition of student heaven.

While the addition of an Amazon Pickup Location seems like a success for Amazon itself, what about the Illini Union Bookstore? It’s hard to imagine a business willingly giving up their own space for another business to move in, especially knowing that they risk losing profit themselves. But this decision is exactly what the Illini Union Bookstore has done, with the end goal aimed at helping students find a place to connect and make their school experience better.

At first this question was a bit concerning, but Mr. Petrie was able to put to rest the fears regarding the bookstore we all know and love. “It does seem counter-intuitive to bring your competitor in with you, and of course you do run the risk of losing some business, but our end goal is to have the bookstore be a place where you can come in and visit with friends, not just to buy supplies,” Mr. Petrie explained. “We already have author book signings and Starbucks, which brings in a lot of daily traffic, and we think that with Amazon we’ll be able to make the bookstore even more of a gathering spot.”

As Mr. Petrie explained how the bookstore is striving to be as supportive of students as possible, his thoughts echoed what Samantha Thrash, a PhD student in Astronomy, said as she voiced her opinion about Amazon@Illinois. “I think the Amazon Pickup Location will be a really good thing, because it gives students a different avenue to order supplies. We tend to have to order so many things as well, so it’s helpful to know this is another option for students to use that may also be more cost effective.”

Opening in Fall 2016, Amazon@Illinois is going to be a great addition to the University of Illinois, and no doubt will make students’  lives easier when it comes down to the wire and they need that Chemistry 200 textbook by the end of day. Coupled with the resources and student comfort provided by the Illini Union Bookstore, these two businesses will be irresistible.

To see virtual photos of what the pick up location upon completion, please visit the link to the Illini Union article here:

All photos provided by Meghan McCoy