Amazon's New Delivery System: You

John Lister's picture

Amazon is reportedly exploring the idea of paying members of the public to deliver packages to their neighbors. It appears to be a bare bones idea that may not lead to anything.

According to sources quoted by the Wall Street Journal, the project is codenamed On My Way. The basic idea is for Amazon to pay retail stores to act as a delivery hub for their neighborhood, working either on a flat rate for a certain time period, or a per-delivery fee. (Source:

The stores would then hold the parcel until a local citizen using a dedicated app saw there was a parcel available in their area and agreed to deliver it to the relevant address. Amazon suggests that the costs of delivering multiple items to each 'hub', plus delivery payment to individuals would work out cheaper than using mainstream courier and delivery services.

Finances Of Plan Seem Shaky

To say the least, the idea has some potential shortcomings. While anyone who repeatedly failed to deliver parcels on time would no doubt quickly be barred from the service, its Amazon who would have to deal with the disgruntled customers, particularly if they paid for fast delivery.

It's also likely many customers would be uneasy about random citizens (and possible nosy neighbors) having their parcel, rather than it be dealt with by people who have at least been through a courier firm's basic vetting.

The economics are also questionable. Retail stores probably won't be willing to help out what's effectively a major business rival without a healthy payoff. And if the payments to the person delivering the parcel are kept low, the entire project may be restricted to people who happen to be heading in the recipient's direction, anyway.

Amazon Already Testing Drone Deliveries

The Wall Street Journal notes that Amazon has investigated numerous alternatives to courier firms for getting a parcel from a local Amazon warehouse to the customer. These include hiring local professional motorcycle couriers, send packages via a cab service, and even using drones.

Probably the wittiest comments on the matter so far came from two readers of The Guardian, which suggest that Amazon might want to consult drug dealers on setting up a cost-efficient local distribution network. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

How much would you need to be paid to take a parcel from a local store to a neighbor's house? Can Amazon really trust members of the public with its customer's parcels? Would knowing Amazon was using such a system put you off buying from it?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I live in Canada and shop online (USA), and have all my parcels shipped to a mailbox place in Detroit. Being able to ship to Detroit allows us to save a ton of money because the same items on might be 2 to 4 times as much (plus, has about 1000x more selection than the Canadian counterpart).

That said, the Detroit mailbox we use has repeatedly lost our packages with little to no recourse. They are so busy and have so many packages, they can't keep track of where they store them. When it comes time to pick up, packages are simply "not there," even though we have a UPS tracker that says it is.

If Amazon decides to use hubs, they better have a bulletproof way of keeping track of which packages were delivered to the hub, to couriers, and finally to recipients. Otherwise, the entire thing will surely backfire with a lot of nasty complaints

UPS and similar courier services are able to track packages the entire way, and I see a similar method being needed for Amazon's hub idea. Perhaps cellphones, smart shipping / tracking labels, and an app will do the job.

Tessman_Ian's picture

I am a disabled Senior Citizen, and I use Amazon Prime Delivery. It all works fine until the final delivery is left up to the USPS. I live in a gated apartment complex, and if a delivery is scheduled for the weekend, I usually get an email saying the postman can not deliver because "the business is closed". Also, the carrier prefers to leave packages in the Apartment Complex's Office, where they are not available to me when the personnel are not available - Which is more often than not. Repeated reports to the USPS have not helped. For what it is worth, full instructions on contacting me for access are printed in Big Letters in English on the code access box - which tells a lot about the carriers for the USPS.

Until Amazon eliminates the USPS as part of their carrier network, it is not worth the cost of the Prime service. It just don't work using the USPS.

Commenter's picture

At least your postal carrier takes your packages to a secure location.

I have gotten two Amazon deliveries this week. Both labels specifically say to leave the package IF NO RESPONSE (emphasis mine.) The postal carrier doesn't even pretend to see if there's a response and then leave the package at the door. He (she?) stuffs it into the mailbox at the street - or tries to. My first package this week didn't fit into the mailbox, so he/she stuffed it partway in and left the door hanging down open. I could see my package hanging out as soon as I came over the hill. If I hadn't come home soon after delivery, it could have vanished with no trace except the assurances that it supposedly had been delivered.

It's ridiculous. UPS and FedEx come directly to my door every time and if they have to leave something, they make sure to put it behind a plant or other decoration on the porch so it can't be seen from the street. USPS could and should do that, too.

If Amazon can't get the USPS to take better care of packages, they need to choose a different carrier.

russell.donaldrussell_4813's picture

I would be highly reluctant to order from a company that will entrust my package to some random person for delivery.

dleye_4414's picture

I have had the same problem when Amazon hands my Prime delivery over to USPS. They don't even ring my bell, nor leave a note. Never an issue with Amazon, always USPS. Maybe members of the public could do a better job than USPS, but I say stick to FedEx and UPS