Amazon opens pickup depot in Iqaluit, promising significantly faster shipping

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Amazon is promising faster, more reliable service to Iqaluit customers by opening a new pickup depot today, which it says will cut delivery times from two to three weeks, to three to five days.
The company’s new partnership with Canadian North will allow flights from Ottawa to Iqaluit – on Wednesdays and Sundays – to have dedicated cargo space reserved for Amazon Prime orders.

Amazon’s new pickup depot is located in the old Northern Canada Freight Hangar near the new Iqaluit Airport. Customers with an Amazon Prime subscription will have the option to choose the new depot as their pickup location during checkout.

The Iqaluit Post Office is also listed as a pickup location, but Amazon says items shipped there will not be delivered within the promised three to five day timeframe.

They told us they were guaranteed to be here for quite a long time. They see Iqaluit as an important step in their business. So we’re really excited.– Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell

“As important as it is to go shopping locally, [retailers are] just too small to carry everything you want, “said Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell.” It’s good to have that option to order from Amazon for things you normally can’t get or who are at extreme prices here. ”

Bell estimates the company shipped 200,000 packages to Iqaluit in 2019 alone.

“We take great pride in serving the community,” added Adam Baker, vice president of global transportation at Amazon.

“It’s important to us that we can use the size of our business for good and help the people who rely on us the most in this area. ”

E-commerce giant Amazon launches operations in Nunavut, bringing affordable essentials to northern Canada. 2:04

‘A sigh of relief’

The company’s decision to locate in Iqaluit is a welcome sign for a community that has often shied away from media coverage of Amazon’s impact on the city for fear of losing service altogether.

“It was always tenuous. We were never sure, even month after month, that [the] the service would continue, ”said Iqaluit advisor Kyle Sheppard, who once invented a Fight Club– rule never to talk about Amazon.

Indeed, Bell thought of the worst when Amazon first contacted his office to inform him of their plans.

“At first I thought they were ditching free shipping,” Bell said. “But they told us they were guaranteed to be here for quite a long time. They see Iqaluit as an important step in their business. So we’re really excited. ”

In October 2019, an issue on Amazon’s systems briefly interrupted free shipping in Iqaluit, plunging customers into a panicking-buying spree, fearing they would lose the coveted service.

“It was probably the hottest topic in town when it happened. Without official information, rumors started to fly and there was a lot of fear in town, ”Sheppard recalls, adding that many people“ breathed a sigh of relief ”when service returned a few days later.

“It would have had a pretty significant impact on the quality of life for some people,” said Sheppard, acknowledging that there are some Iqalummiut who cannot access the affordability of Amazon Prime for lack of a credit card, bank account or membership fee.

Aaron Ejetsiak, a resident of Iqaluit, carries an Amazon box outside the local post office. Amazon delivered 200,000 packages to Iqaluit in 2019, according to Mayor Kenny Bell. (Matisse Harvey / Radio-Canada)

Impact on food security

As Amazon has opened up a variety of online shopping options for communities without malls or big box stores, it has also opened Iqaluit to southern prices on food and small items.

Products like non-perishable foods, toothpaste, tampons, and deodorant are often half the price on Amazon compared to local stores in Iqaluit – with prices dragged down by shipping costs, staff salaries, and invoices. electricity.

“I’ve been a student for three and a half years. I spend thousands of dollars every two months on orders from Amazon, and that probably saves me thousands, ”said fourth-year law student David Lawson. “It certainly has an impact on food security. ”

“I know there are people in the communities who will [Amazon orders] shipped here to friends and family, and pick them up when they pass by, ”added Nicole Camphaug, a local sealskin craftsman.

“They can get nutritious food on Amazon, and they don’t have to take their money and be like, ‘Well, what can I buy at the local store with that?’ I think Nutrition North compared to Amazon there is quite a difference. ”

Nicole Camphaug, a local sealskin craftsman, has been selected to test Amazon’s new shipping service ahead of launch. (Nick Murray / CBC News)

Still, while the mayor of Iqaluit is happy to see Amazon maintain the service for the long haul, he noted that there was something to be said for local shopping.

“All our local establishments give back [to the community], whether it’s soup kitchen, youth hockey or whatever. Bell said. “Obviously that’s really important, and that’s one of the main reasons you support the local … but [Amazon] supports the community with free shipping. Their gift is probably more important than anyone, really. ”

Meanwhile, because Iqaluit can benefit from the northern food price reprieve, Amazon Prime shipping is not available to the rest of Nunavut – where 70% of Inuit households are food insecure.

Baker, the Amazon executive, did not rule out leveraging the new partnership with Canadian North to expand free shipping nationwide, but said “doing it right” in Iqaluit was the main objective of the company at the moment.



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