Amazon Testing A Delivery Service Of Its Own

How many times have you gotten a shipping alert from Amazon and groaned when because the delivery service selected by Amazon has a history of late deliveries, or of mishandling packages, or of packages that vanish into the ether? Now Amazon is reportedly testing a system in San Francisco that takes the middle man out of the equation.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon has quietly launched a pilot program working in the shadow of the vacant husk of a stadium that is Candlestick Park, using its own trucks and contracted drivers to make deliveries in the area.

Amazon has warehouses all around the country, but even when it’s delivering items down the street from one of its facilities, it has been paying others to do the work for them.

Operating its own to-the-home courier service could not only save it money on skyrocketing shipping costs, but also allow Amazon to offer same-day delivery of some items in certain areas. Of course, that will all depend on whether or not the local warehouse stocks an ordered item.

Amazon shoppers in the San Francisco area can apparently tell if their package is coming via the new service because the tracking info on Amazon.com will not link to an outside service and uses a different coding system than what you’d see from UPS or FedEx. The Journal reports that Amazon expects to expand this test to L.A. and NYC.

Amazon recently patented a system that would predict ordering behaviors of customers around the country, allowing the company to pre-ship items to distribution centers in order to more efficiently meet demand.

This last-mile type of courier service would seem to fit right into that system, employing FedEx, UPS, et al, to move large, bulk shipments around between distribution centers, and then employing its own service to make that delivery to the home.

Today’s launch of Prime Pantry also fits into this improved shipping model, but trying to minimize the packaging and tracking needed to deliver multiple items to one address.

Such a service would obviously mean fewer packages to deliver for UPS, FedEx, and USPS though presumably these would all still be used to make deliveries outside of areas immediately serviced by warehouses.

The Journal points out that Amazon’s test of its own delivery service in the U.K. hasn’t exactly gone swimmingly, with customers going online to gripe about missed, late or inaccurate deliveries. And one consumer in San Francisco who now receives packages delivered by Amazon says two recent orders have repeatedly missed their delivery deadlines.

“After the first time, I asked them not to ship me anything using that service, but they did it again anyway” said the customer. “I don’t want to be Amazon’s test market for their new shipping idea—that’s not what I am paying for.”

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  1. SingleMaltGeek says:

    A fridge pack of Coke products is $3.99 on Pantry…I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $3.50, usually $3 or under, as I wait until they’re on sale and stock up. And it’s not like the cost of living is cheap where I live. (Highest full retail price I’ve seen is $5.99.)

    However, their prices on hot sauces aren’t bad. A 28oz bottle of Huy Fong sriracha for $3.49 is as good or better than the Asian groceries I go to, and $5.42 for the larger 12oz bottle of Cholula beats the best price per ounce I’ve gotten on the 5oz bottles that I usually see in grocery stores.

    The biggest problem I see is the choice. You’d think since they don’t have to worry about stocking shelves and displaying product that Amazon would have a better selection than your local grocery, but for the products I looked at that’s not true. I could use the larger bottles of hot sauce, but if you use it very sparingly you probably want a smaller bottle. However, the sizes I mentioned above were the only ones for those brands, and the other offerings were one type each of Tapatio, Tabasco, and Frank’s. Good choices, but limited. (No Texas Pete’s, for example.)

    But since I use Amazon Subscribe and Save for cat food and still get a better deal than what I could get at the supermarket, I’m optimistic that eventually I’ll find enough products I want at better prices to order from them once in a while.