Electronic commerce giant Amazon officially opened its newest location in Storrs Center, just outside the campus limits of the University of Connecticut, on Wednesday.
“I’m thrilled to bring this service to students and the general public here in Storrs,” Amazon Campus head and general manager Jon Alexander said. “Amazon@Storrs is a 4,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility made for customers to ship here, as well as for free returns, and there are more services including same day shipping for Prime members.”
Amazon@Storrs, located at 40 Wilbur Cross Way, is the twelfth Amazon Campus hub of its kind. The closest other location is in Boston and the farthest is at UC Berkeley. Amazon expects to have about 17 open by the end of the year, Alexander said.
The pickup hub has four locker kiosks, where customers can scan barcodes from their orders to pick up their items from automated lockers. Amazon campus associate and recent UConn graduate Kasey Pekala gave demonstrations at the opening event.
“One of the benefits (of this location) is security,” Pekala said. “Your package will stay safe until you come pick it up, which beats leaving it on your porch.”
UConn’s mailrooms had a very high volume of Amazon deliveries last year, and university officials said the popularity of Amazon Prime among students contributed at least partly to severe mailroom backups in the fall 2016 semester, as previously reported by The Daily Campus.
“Those articles reinforced the need that we already had seen,” Alexander said. “That’s not the primary reason we came here, but obviously at the end of the day if our customers can’t get their items because they’re stuck in the mailroom or stuck at the post office then that’s not a great customer experience.”
The location is available to all Amazon customers but has extra services for those who pay for an Amazon Prime membership, Alexander said.
“The difference is if you are a Student Prime member or a full Prime member, you can get same-day shipping on many items,” Alexander said. “You can order as late as 10p.m. at night and pick up as early as 9a.m. the next morning, and that is on at least two to million unique items.”
Prime Student is available to those with a .edu email address. It offers a six-month free trial period and then costs $49 for a year. Otherwise Prime costs $99 for a year’s membership.
At the event, Mansfield Mayor Paul Shapiro said Amazon@Storrs is a great service for students and other community members, as well as a great addition to Mansfield’s downtown, Storrs Center.
“We are delighted to have the Amazon team in town,” Shapiro said. “This is the ideal business for our development in Storrs Center.”
Shapiro said he guessed about 90 percent of Mansfield residents and possibly closer to 100 percent of UConn students use Amazon.
Mansfield town manager Matt Hart said Amazon@Storrs shows in part the 16 years of work the town has put into Storrs Center coming to fruition.
“If you would have asked us ten, even five years ago, would Storrs be home to the first Amazon store in the state of Connecitcut, many of us would have thought you were crazy,” Hart said.
Shapiro added that he was excited about other businesses new to Storrs Center, such as Tang (a Chinese BBQ and Karaoke restaurant) and Toasted, a sandwich shop.
Chris McDermott is the news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.