Amazon Locker to expand in Europe
Fri 19 Feb 2016
Job advertisements throughout Europe indicate that Amazon is looking to create a system of parcel lockers throughout Europe, where people can pick up their own packages, in an effort to offer more delivery options to customers while cutting costs. This appears to be part of a worldwide effort for Amazon to tighten control on shipping costs by reducing dependence on third-party delivery methods, while offering customers options enough to maintain their competitive advantage.
Shipping costs for the online retail giant rose more than 18% last year, to a staggering $11.5 billion. Amazon Locker is one of the methods by which Amazon proposes to cut those costs in the future. With Amazon Locker, a driver would deliver packages to one central location, for example, a shopping center, and place parcels in individual lockers. Customers would receive a locker number and code, and pick up their packages at their convenience. This would help reduce the ‘last mile’ transportation costs, by eliminating the need for a driver to make individual deliveries.
Amazon locker systems are currently available in areas of the U.S. and UK. The advertisements that indicated the company’s interest in expanding the system included positions for Amazon Locker business development in Munich, London and Paris, and operations and network development in Munich, London, Paris and Luxembourg.
Amazon appears to be revising its delivery systems in the U.S. as well. Just yesterday, in a move that has not yet been announced publicly, it was revealed that Amazon emailed existing Amazon Flex drivers to gauge the possibility of expanding their current delivery parameters. Amazon Flex drivers are part-time independent contractors who are paid directly by Amazon to deliver Prime Now packages in select cities in the U.S. Prime Now is a service whereby customers can request speedy delivery of common household items.
The Flex system operates, from the driver’s point of view, much like Uber. Drivers can sign up for a set time period when they will be available, but rather than drive customers from point A to B, they pick up packages and deliver them to customers. A spokesperson for Amazon said just this week that contractors are already delivering regular Amazon products, and are not limited to Prime Now orders. However, the company held that they are not trying to replace traditional third-party delivery services, but rather get contractors to back up traditional providers at peak times.
These new methods of delivery, while not eliminating the need for third-party shipping providers, could help Amazon to gain still more competitive advantage by allowing them to control shipping costs, while still providing a variety of options to their customers worldwide.