Amazon is launching a better version of the post office in cities around the country -- here's what they're like to use (AMZN)

  • Amazon has been opening retail locations meant specifically for picking up and returning items.

  • The retailer has opened nearly 30 of these stand-alone locations.

  • We used one in the Los Angeles area to see what they're like.

Customers can only do two things at Amazon pickup locations: pick up packages and returning them. That's all these locations are built for.

Luckily, Amazon being the online-shopping powerhouse it is, those are two very important purposes.

The locations function a lot like a post office, but just for Amazon packages. Get them sent to the building's address, and they'll be there when the customer is ready to pick them up. Packages can be kept there for up to two weeks.

Need to return an item? The service is completely free since it doesn't actually need to go through the mail.

The pickup locations work a lot like Amazon's Locker system, which offer a place in convenience and grocery stores for customers to pick up packages. But by setting a time limit, the pickup location solves the problem of customers forgetting or neglecting to pick up their packages, which renders the lockers unusable until some space is freed.

RELATED: All of President Trump's Twitter attacks on Amazon

Amazon won't say exactly how many of these locations exist in the United States, but the number is at least 30 and growing. It just opened its first in the company's hometown of Seattle, to a surprising bit of fanfare for such a utilitarian device.

I visited the pickup location in Westwood, Los Angeles, a stone's throw from UCLA, to see what they're like to use. True to Amazon's ethos, it's simple and basic, but it works extremely efficiently.

It's perfect for a college student without a permanent address or a tourist like me. One of the benefits for Prime members is that they can order some items for same-day or next-day pickup.

Here's what it's like to use an Amazon pickup location:

Prime members can also place orders for free same-day or next-day pickup as long as the item is sold by Amazon, not oversized, and picked up within 15 days. Still, most Amazon shoppers will likely never need to visit one of these pickup locations.

More from Business Insider: