Porch pirates. These are the annoying folks who go around nabbing uncollected packages left by delivery drivers outside people’s homes. Recent research showed that packages were stolen from a whopping 11 million U.S. homeowners in the space of 12 months. It’s a real headache for ecommerce giants like Amazon, but a downright migraine for customers who arrive home to find their delivery gone.
So, what to do? Amazon already has a few solutions in place, including a locker service at several thousand locations across the country. And now it’s in “advanced talks” with smart-license-plate firm Phrame that would allow delivery drivers to deposit packages in the trunk of your car, according to a CNBC report.
Phrame’s special license plate includes a secure box large enough to hold a car’s keys. The owner can unlock the box with their smartphone, and also grant access remotely to others, such as delivery personnel. The driver would locate the car using GPS, and the owner would receive real-time notifications telling them when their trunk has been locked and unlocked.
It’s actually not the first time Amazon has examined the possibility of delivering ordered items to a car. In 2015 the company tested a program in the German city of Munich that gave the delivery driver one-time keyless access to the trunk.
The idea of dropping off a package in the trunk of a car is certainly an interesting one, though Amazon’s biggest challenge may be persuading customers to entrust someone they don’t know with the keys to their vehicle. The firm would also have to encourage its online customers to fork out $150 for a Phrame license plate, though maybe Amazon could do a deal with the company and offer it to Prime customers at a discount.
CNBC’s unnamed source also claimed that Amazon is developing a smart-lock device that a homeowner can use to give one-time access to their house, enabling a delivery driver to leave the package inside rather than outside the property, protecting it from porch pirates as well as bad weather.
Rival company Walmart is already testing an inside-the-home delivery service using a smart lock. In fact, Walmart, which partnered with smart-home specialist August to run the trial, even has the delivery driver pop the goods into your fridge or pantry, so it’s already in place when you walk in the door.