Amazon Prime Now: A peek inside the Manhattan warehouse (pictures)

The online retailer built dozens of small warehouses in urban areas to power its new rapid-deliveries service. CNET visits one of these spaces, which was located on the fifth floor of a Midtown Manhattan office tower.

Ben Fox Rubin
1 of 13 Sarah Tew/CNET

The entrance into Amazon's Midtown Manhattan warehouse

The entrance and lobby of 7 W. 34th Street fit that of a modern office tower. Yet, while many of the building's floors are filled with office space, Amazon built out the fifth floor with an urban distribution center so it can quick deliver packages around Manhattan and Brooklyn.

2 of 13 Sarah Tew/CNET

Using the Amazon Prime Now app

The Manhattan distribution center helps power Prime Now, a rapid-deliveries service Amazon started last year, Prime Now, available through a mobile app, can deliver tens of thousands of products including electronics, diapers and household cleaners in two hours or less.

3 of 13 Sarah Tew/CNET

Prime Now lockers

The building's lobby has a row of Prime Now lockers, to allow customers to pick up orders, providing a hint of what's on the fifth floor.

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Inside the urban warehouse

The fifth floor warehouse is 50,000 square feet, just a fraction of the size of a typical 1-million-square-foot Amazon distribution center.

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Looking down an aisle

Despite the space's small size, Amazon managed to cram in thousands of products.

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A random assortment

The assortment on the shelves at the Manhattan location are intentionally random to ensure there isn't a traffic jam of workers in any one location. "The random sorting actually creates more efficiencies," spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman said.

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Pallets of goods

In one corner are pallets filled with larger items, including soda, bottled water and Razor scooters.

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Cold and frozen deliveries, too

Nearby are rows of refrigerators and freezers that are stocked with orange juice, almond milk and ice cream.

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Preparing new orders

Amazon workers buzz around the tight aisles of the warehouse, filling brown bags with orders to quickly ship out.

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Getting orders out the door

At the front of the warehouse, completed orders are prepared for delivery.

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Time to make a delivery

Here courier Sylvester Alderman checks an Amazon Prime Now app on his phone that tells him where to go for his next order.

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On the way

Amazon workers walk, bike, ride the bus and subway, and drive vans to deliver orders around Manhattan and Brooklyn.

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Alderman walks a few blocks down the street to an apartment building, where he delivers his package in a few minutes.

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