Amazon building network of delivery contractors
Online retailer Amazon.com has been looking for a while to find a way to have more control over how its packages are delivered.
With a new programme rolled out Thursday, contractors around the country can launch businesses that deliver Amazon packages using Amazon vans.
The move gives Amazon more ways to ship its packages to shoppers without having to rely on UPS, FedEx and other package delivery services.
With these vans on the road, Amazon said more shoppers would be able to track their packages on a map, contact the driver or change where a package is left - all of which it can't do if the package is in the back of a UPS or FedEx truck.
Amazon has beefed up its delivery network in other ways: It has a fleet of cargo planes it calls Prime Air, announced last year that it was building an air cargo hub in Kentucky and pays people as much as US$25 an hour to deliver packages with their cars through Amazon Flex.
Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice-president of worldwide operations, said the new programme is not a response to President Donald Trump, who has insisted that Amazon should pay the United States Postal Service more for shipping its packages, but a way to make sure that the company can deliver its growing number of orders.
"This is really about meeting growth for our future," Clark said.
Through the programme, Amazon said it can cost as little as US$10,000 for someone to start the delivery business. Contractors that participate in the programme will be able to lease blue vans with the Amazon logo stamped on it, buy Amazon uniforms for drivers and get support from Amazon to grow their business.
Contractors don't have to lease the vans, but if they do, those vehicles can only be used to deliver Amazon packages, the company said. The contractor will be responsible for hiring delivery people, and Amazon would be the customer, paying the business to pick up packages from its 75 US delivery centres and dropping them off at shoppers' doorsteps. An Amazon representative declined to give details on how much it will pay for the deliveries.
Olaoluwa Abimbola, who was part of Amazon's test of the programme, said that the amount of packages Amazon needs delivered keeps his business busy. He's hired 40 workers in five months.
"We don't have to go make sales speeches," Abimbola said. "There's constant work, every day. All we have to do is show up."
Amazon to buy online pharmacy PillPack
Also on Thursday, Amazon.com Inc announced it is buying PillPack, an online pharmacy that offers presorted dose packaging and home delivery. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Amazon said PillPack offers a combination of deep pharmacy experience and a focus on technology.
The company, which has its primary pharmacy in Manchester, New Hampshire, ships to all states except Hawaii. The companies expect to close the deal later this year.