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Forget Drones: Amazon Wants You Or Your Neighbors To Deliver Packages

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With current regulation and the capability of drones preventing Amazon from using them to deliver packages, the e-commerce group is now turning to, surprise, you to get its daily 3.5 million packages sent to its customers.

The Wall Street Journal cites unnamed sources who claim Amazon is testing a crowdsourced delivery service that allows ordinary people who are not employees of Amazon to pick up Amazon packages at local retailers and deliver them to their recipient. Amazon is still mulling over how these people would be paid, but it is possible they would be paid with cash or Amazon store credits.

Dubbed On My Way, the service would become the latest service to offer crowdsourced delivery and will compete with the likes of Instacart, which has part-time workers delivering grocery items to customers, and Deliv, which offers crowdsourced same-day delivery. Major technology companies Google and eBay are also experimenting with their own delivery service.

If On My Way becomes successful, it would give Amazon a means to cut down on delivery time and shipping costs. In 2014, Amazon spent a whopping $8.7 billion just shipping its packages alone. The figure accounts for nearly 10 percent of all Amazon sales, compared to the $6.63 billion it spent on shipping in 2013.

"You see all these Ubers driving around, people going from point A to point B and you say to yourself, 'Couldn't I stick a package in their trunk?'" said Colin Gillis, senior technology analyst at BGC Financial, in an interview with USA Today. "So it makes sense for Amazon to be looking at this."

However, such a delivery model is not without challenges. Most prominent among the issues that Amazon has to contend with is whether or not its customers are comfortable having someone else other than the United Parcel Service or FedEx delivery man hand over their packages at the doorstep. Gillis says some people prefer to pay more "for that big brown truck to show up in their driveway rather than some random person."

"What's to stop these people from simply taking the packages for themselves instead of leaving it on someone's porch?" said Marc Wulfraat, president of consulting firm MWPVL International.

Amazon has experimented with several alternative delivery services, including the use of drones, bike messengers and third-party delivery services for hours-long delivery and Uber and taxi drivers. It has even placed pick-up lockers at various 7-Eleven stores and other retail stores for customers to pick up their packages at their most convenient schedule.

However, the WSJ's sources admit it is possible that Amazon will not roll out On My Way as one of its official delivery services.

Photo: Alan Levine | Flickr

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