Amazon Inc is constantly trying to improve the shopping experience of their users. Just a couple of weeks ago the company launched a service that offered shoppers free shipping for small objects such as such as earplugs, lipsticks, eyeliners, smartphone accessories, that weigh eight ounces or less (230 grams or less).
Shipping fees are often an issue for shoppers as they often exceed the sum of money that people pay for the products that they want. This discourages many from shopping online. Even when they don’t exceed the value of the products, more often than not they end up being a fee that most people just don’t feel compelled to pay. And they’re not becoming any more convenient. Last year they grew by 31 percent (31%).
In trying to solve this issue even further, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week, on Tuesday (Jne 16, 2015) that Amazon Inc has now decided to develop an app that would pay ordinary people, instead of a currier company, to deliver packages to destinations that are on the way to where they were already going.
This approach to shipping is known internationally as “On My Way”.
Amazon’s plan is to recruit several retail stores in urban areas and get them to store the packages until members of the public can come to pick them up and deliver them to their rightful owners. The working theory is that Amazon would pay retailers either by a pre-defined fee per package, or by offering a monthly renting fee. However, it remains unknown for the time being if any retail stores have been approached and if they were receptive to the idea.
On one hand the service would give Amazon a lot more control over the shopping experience and reduce shipping fees drastically fir their customers.
On the other, it raises a number of logistical problems. Experts have wondered what would happen if an independent delivery person wouldn’t find the recipient of the package home – can they leave it with a neighbor? Would they have to return it to the retailer store from where they picked it up?
Another major question is who would be held responsible if a package goes missing – would the independent delivery person have to pay for it? Is it Amazon’s fault for trusting them in the first place? What if a package is already missing from the retail store when the ordinary person comes to pick it up?
Marc Wulfraat, president of MWPVL International Inc., a logistics consulting firm based in Montreal, and one that tracks Amazon closely, gave a statement saying that there’s definitely a kind of logic to the company’s idea, but that it also seems that there is a lot that might go wrong. He wonders what could possibly stop such people from just taking the packages and keeping them for themselves, rather than leave them on someone else’s porch.
It is precisely because of such questions that people familiar with the project have informed the Wall Street Journal that not only does Amazon not have a launching date for the app, they’re not even sure if they will end up going through with it. And when approached, company spokesmen refused to comment on the matter.