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.”