Amazon is continuing to look at every conceivable method for getting packages to people. Prime Air delivery drones are at least a few years off, so in the meantime the e-commerce giant is looking at an option that’s been around for years – newspaper trucks.
The company recently conducted tests using newspaper carriers, people with knowledge of the matter told the Wall Street Journal this week.
The publication said that while print subscriptions have fallen over recent years, “newspaper trucks still wend their way through every neighborhood of a major city, putting them close to Amazon customers.”
The trial reportedly involved Tribune Publishing, which publishes the Chicago Tribune and the LA Times. However, deliveries are believed to have taken place only in Chicago.
The test service was apparently halted within a couple of weeks after Tribune cited courier-related tax issues as a barrier to its continuation. Still, it seems this hasn’t deterred Amazon, which is now thought to be considering approaching other newspaper firms with a view to launching similar trials.
Amazon is constantly evaluating its options when it comes to getting ordered items into the hands of its customers.
Some of its thinking was revealed in a job ad posted last year as it sought delivery drivers for its own last-mile service.
“Amazon is growing at a faster speed than UPS and FedEx, who are responsible for shipping the majority of our packages,” the ad said. “At this rate Amazon cannot continue to rely solely on the solutions provided through traditional logistics providers. To do so will limit our growth, increase costs and impede innovation in delivery capabilities.”
Indeed, the company is determined never again to be caught out in the way it was two years ago when its Christmas deliveries were delayed as the big-name shipping companies struggled to cope with the unexpectedly huge amount of packages in their systems. With complaints rolling in, Amazon felt compelled to offer affected customers $20 gift cards by way of apology, at the same time saying it was “reviewing the performance of the delivery carriers.”
Keen to expand the availability of its Prime Now service, which offers one-hour delivery on tens of thousand of items, Amazon recently launched an Uber-like system called Flex that gives regular folks the opportunity to deliver packages using their own cars, with drivers paid up to $25 an hour.
Other Amazon moves geared toward improving the efficiency of its delivery operation include using the NY City subway and bike-based couriers. It’s also believed to be evaluating the viability of a click-and-collect system involving its distribution centers, while Amazon Lockers at 7-Eleven stores already give customers the chance to pick up packages at a time that suits them.
Meanwhile, Amazon engineers are continuing work on the company’s ambitious Prime Air delivery drone, though regulatory hurdles mean it’s likely to be some time before we see drones dropping off items in customers’ yards.