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Amazon courts Purdue students with on-campus delivery center

The e-commerce giant opens a staffed brick-and-mortar center that lets students pick up textbooks and other school supplies and drop off rented texts.

Amazon is offering students an easy way to pick up items on campus. Amazon/Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Amazon is rolling out yet another service to expand its online presence into the real world.

As of Tuesday, students at Purdue University will be able to pick up textbooks and other items they've ordered through Amazon at an Amazon-staffed center on campus. Known as Amazon@Purdue, the center will be Amazon's first staffed pickup and drop-off location. Students will be able to collect items at the Krach Leadership Center at Purdue University's West Lafayette campus and also use the location to return textbooks rented through Amazon.

As a further incentive beyond convenience, Amazon Student and Amazon Prime members at Purdue get free one-day shipping on textbooks delivered to the Amazon@Purdue location and are eligible for free one-day shipping on more than 1 million other items as well. And starting in the spring, all Purdue students -- not just Amazon Student and Amazon Prime members -- will be eligible for free one-day shipping on Purdue textbooks shipped to Amazon@Purdue.

Moving beyond its online roots, Amazon is increasingly turning to physical locations to drum up sales and deal directly with customers. With the Amazon@Purdue service, the company not only taps into the textbook market, but also provides college students with competitive prices and the opportunity to easily pick up any item ordered through Amazon. The service is also available to Purdue faculty, staff and alumni, further increasing Amazon's potential customer base.

In a press release Amazon described how Amazon@Purdue works:

  • Purdue students, alumni, faculty and staff can activate their benefits by visiting or joining Amazon Student.
  • Students can then find the textbooks they need on Amazon's website by searching for a badge with the Purdue logo and class information. Students can also buy other items and find products that qualify for free one-day shipping by looking for a badge marked "Prime Campus."
  • Students who buy an item choose Amazon@Purdue as their shipping address and receive an email or text alert once the item arrives. Clicking on a link in the email or text generates a bar code that gets scanned at the Amazon@Purdue location. The student can then get the item at the pickup desk or one of Amazon's self-service lockers.

Amazon plans to expand the service by opening a second location this spring in the Purdue Memorial Union building. The company has also made similar deals with the University of California, Davis, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

"We're excited to open our first-ever staffed pickup location at Purdue, making it more convenient and affordable for students to get everything they need for life on campus," Paul Ryder, VP of Media and Student Programs at Amazon, said. "Whether students are ordering textbooks, laptops , or mac and cheese, Amazon and Purdue are now providing a convenient and secure spot for them to pick up their stuff at hours that work with their schedules."