Amazon Reportedly Working On New Shipping Service That Turns Ordinary People Into Couriers

Looking to pick up a few dollars while making your way around town? Then Amazon’s latest attempt to quickly and cheaply deliver packages might be right up your alley, that is if the consumer-turned-courier program comes to fruition.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people close to the matter, reports that the online retailer is working on a mobile app that would essentially allow any regular ol’ Joe to multitask by delivering packages to customers while out-and-about.

Under the shipping plan, currently referred to as On My Way, the new couriers would drop off Amazon packages at physical stores in urban areas.

Amazon would likely rent space or pay a per-package fee for the partnered retailers to store the deliveries until consumers could pick them up – an aspect that somewhat resembles United Parcel Service’s Access Point service. 

The sources say that On My Way came about as the retail giant began mulling the idea of creating an on-demand taxi service.

People close to the matter tell the WSJ that there currently isn’t a timeline for actually implementing On My Way and that Amazon could ultimately ditch the plan.

Shipping industry analysts say that while the concept could provide cost savings for the company, there are several aspects of crowd-sourced shipping that could be problematic.

For example, who would be to blame if a package goes missing or is delivered damaged? Would Amazon vet delivery drivers before allowing them to handle potentially expensive packages? With a wide range of products available for purchase through Amazon, would there be a limit to what items could be shipped this way? And would smaller local stores be open to the idea of partnering with a company they might view as a rival?

However, the WSJ points out that it could be feasible for Amazon to tap into its network of convenience stores and parking garages that house lockers where customers can currently pickup packages or make returned.

On My Way wouldn’t be the first time that Amazon has delved into unique delivery options. Last year, the company tested $5 package shipping through yellow cabs in some areas of San Francisco.

A spokesperson for Amazon declined to provide comment to the WSJ regarding On My Way.

If the customer-as-courier concept sounds familiar, it’s because Walmart gave some thought to the idea back in 2013, brainstorming ways to entice in-store customers to deliver purchases to shoppers on their way home. We’ve never heard of Walmart doing any actual tests for this delivery idea.

Amazon Mulls Paying People for Deliveries [The Wall Street Journal]

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