Axios reports this morning that "Amazon plans to tap thousands of U.S. small businesses, from bodegas to florists, to deliver its packages by the end of the year." Starting today, Amazin is going to "start actively recruiting existing small businesses in 23 states including Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, and Washington.
"At least 20 dense cities across the country, including Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Seattle, will be targeted by the program.
"The company is interested in working with a wide range of businesses such as florists, coffee shops, clothing stores, among others. Amazon notes they don't need delivery experience to make the partnership work."
The initiative is called Amazon Hub Delivery, and Axios notes that "this is the tech and logistics giant's latest attempt to expand its 'last mile' network — the last stage in logistics where packages are ultimately delivered to customers — through external workforces … Participating businesses deliver an average of 30 packages a day for seven days a week, excluding major holidays.
"Meanwhile, drivers from Amazon's Delivery Service Partner network drop off the packages to local businesses, which are required to have a secure area for storage."
- KC's View:
This isn't exactly new - there has been reporting about how Amazon has been testing out this program on a limited basis for months, if not years. But Amazon clearly believes it has worked out the kinks.
Here's the potential problem. Amazon has spent a lot of time and billions of dollars investing in a proprietary and branded logistics and delivery system so it could have more control over the customer experience. This, on the face of it, would appear to relax that control a bit - probably to save money, perhaps to increase efficiency.
I cannot help but feel like Amazon's desire to control the narrative and the customer experience is at war with the current desire to save money. That said, I have to wonder if this has the makings of a backup plan in the event of labor actions that hurt its ability to deliver, literally, on its value proposition. (See our story below about how Amazon is the big fish that the Teamsters hope to target after concluding its negotiations with UPS.)