Amazon.com is considering recruiting the man on the street to deliver packages to the rest of his neighborhood.
The e-tailing giant is developing a mobile app that would pay participating members of the public to deliver goods, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The low-tech meets hi-tech move is the latest in a long list of schemes to cut the costs of one of the most expensive parts of the Amazon business model, namely doorstep delivery.
Amazon has considered GPS tracking-enabled drone delivery (codenamed Bring It to Me) and sealed an exclusive deal with the Post Office to deliver boxes on Sunday.
The neighbourhood delivery program is called On My Way internally, and there are significant logistical problems to be worked out before it solidifies, such as theft prevention, protection against liability, and, of course, cost - big delivery companies and the Post Office are much more efficient than most alternatives.
Amazon isn’t the only tech company trying to find inefficiencies in the delivery market: Uber’s same-day delivery program just reached its first birthday, but it, too, has had trouble. Starbucks and Apple no longer have contracts with the ride-sharing service, and talks with food-delivery services that might have used Uber have stalled, the Journal reported.
The company may also face legal challenges to any plans to outsource delivery to freelancers. Last week, FedEx settled a case (after losing the initial appeal) alleging it had misclassified more than 2,300 workers as “independent contractors” and denied them full-time employee benefits. The independent contractor classification is vital to the “sharing economy” suite of tech companies; as that class’s constituent workers become savvier about how to deal with their employers, it will likely cost those employers more to retain them.
Meanwhile, Amazon is employing another strategy to offset high shipping costs: the company has begun advertising on the outsides of its boxes. The neighbor eyeing your birthday presents may actually just be really into the new Minions movie.