The days of valuable packages being left on customer’s verandahs could soon be over, with retail and logistics giant Amazon unveiling its latest service, Amazon Key.
Key is Amazon’s latest attempt to further smooth out and speed up its delivery services. It will allow delivery drivers to access customer’s houses to drop off packages through the use of a smart lock and accompanying security camera.
The company announced today the services will be available for Amazon Prime customers in 37 cities across the US from November 8, spruiking the service as an option to boost convenience for Amazon customers.
“Amazon Key gives customers peace of mind knowing their orders have been safely delivered to their homes and are waiting for them when they walk through their doors,” said vice president of delivery technology Peter Larsen in a statement.
“Now, Prime members can select in-home delivery and conveniently see their packages being delivered right from their mobile phones.”
A new Amazon Key app will allow customers to coordinate and monitor the deliveries, with the accompanying Cloud Cam letting them see the delivery occur in real-time, aiming to allay consumer fears around security and privacy.
Amazon customers looking to benefit from the streamlined delivery service will have to splash a bit of cash, with the smart lock and Cloud Cam bundle available for purchase from Amazon for $US250 ($324).
Delivering a product straight into customer’s homes is breaking new ground in the world of logistics, but similar concepts have been established for customers’ cars, with Swedish automotive manufacturer Volvo unveiling an in-car delivery service in May last year.
Speed is the new currency of retailers
Speaking to SmartCompany, retail expert and lecturer at University of Queensland School of Business Professor Gary Mortimer says Amazon’s offering builds on the same principles established by Volvo, but is “very innovative” and serves to further progress the desire for efficient delivery systems.
“I think what we’re seeing more now than every is speed becoming the new currency of retail. It’s not about it being cheaper, it’s about it being fast,” Mortimer says.
“The fastest and easiest way to get the product will always win at the end of the day – we already know consumers are willing to pay more for same-day delivery.”
“Having the product placed directly in your front door or the boot of your car is a very attractive proposition.”
Amazon is also advertising the service as a way for its customers to let their family and friends into their house remotely, or even allowing this for cleaning services such as US-based Merry Maids, which is a launch partner for Amazon Key.
Mortimer firmly believes Australian consumers would be on board with a concept like Amazon Key, but worries retailers will be slow on the uptake, given the relatively low proportion of online shopping occurring locally, still about seven percent of overall online purchases.
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“That tends to be an inhibitor of the uptake of things like this,” he says.
While some retailers have embraced services like Australia Post’s delivery lockers to work around the risks and shortfalls of home delivery, Mortimer says customers often don’t view picking up a parcel as convenient, saying “at that point, you may as well just go to the store”.
“If you’re focused on convenience and speed, you have to avoid customers having to make stops at the post office or parcel lockers,” he says.
One area Mortimer can imagine a service similar to Amazon Key working is the grocery home delivery space, which has recently seen local retailers struggle with ways of coordinating deliveries effectively with customers.
“Imagine having someone drop all your groceries into your fridge for you and save you having to be home to collect them?” he says.
Although he acknowledges the potential security risks of a service like Amazon Key, Mortimer believes the offering overall has a “strong value proposition” and removes much of the risks associated with home delivery.
With the service aimed to continue rolling out to more locations “over time”, Amazon told SmartCompany it hopes to offer the service to Prime customers everywhere eventually.