Amazon 2Roger Sumner-Rivers, founder of pioneering international couriers ParcelHero, says Amazon’s latest logistics idea shows the industry innovator at its best. He reveals Amazon is considering using its customers to deliver its parcels though a crowdsourced delivery programme, using an App codenamed ‘On My Way’.

Says Roger: “Amazon is undoubtedly a logistics industry disruptor; and our recent report, Amazon’s Prime Ambition has revealed the imaginative ways the company has found to continually increase delivery options for its Prime members; from creating its own logistics company to pioneering deliveries directly to customer’s cars. The ‘On My Way’ App shows how new technology can enable a whole new approach to parcel delivery.”

Explains Roger: “Our understanding is that the proposed service would recruit High Street shops in towns and cities to store packages. Then ‘everyday people’, most likely existing Amazon customers willing to make deliveries, could use the ‘On My Way’ App to see where to pick up and drop off goods to destinations that are on their existing journey. Of course such a service is very local and never going to replace the likes of UPS or Amazon’s own logistics operation, but it makes sense as another option for the final mile in urban areas.”

Roger says it could make Amazon significant savings: “Our recent report reveals Amazon spends an incredible $5.13bn on deliveries a year, with a typical UPS or FedEx delivery costing it $8. Little wonder that it is now investigating involving its customers, and out-Ubering Uber. It could reduce those costs to perhaps $1 an item; or even pay in credits for items on its site.”

But Roger points out that the savings could come at a cost to Amazon. Warns Roger: “It seems on the surface a win-win idea; but what happens if items are lost or damaged by the amateur courier; or are even potentially stolen.  Who is liable in such cases, Amazon or their non-professional courier? These are issues that need to be clarified before any launch.”

However, Roger can see other significant benefits to the idea as well. “There’s a nice neighbourhood community aspect to these plans. It could be a way of getting to know neighbours and bring people together. It’s also a very green concept; incorporating deliveries into a journey someone was already making for other purposes.  And it might sound a nightmare to vet, but participants could be ranked just as they are in the Uber taxi App, for example, or even by Amazon’s own seller review scheme.”

Concludes Roger: “Technology is continually enabling new ways of delivering goods to customers, and undoubtedly ‘On My Way’ shows the way forward. It fits in with Amazon’s high-tech approach to logistics: for example our new report reveals it’s enabling coffee machines to generate an automatic order to Amazon when they run low;  and even patenting the idea to use 3D printers to manufacture items while en-route to customers.  The App sounds genuinely innovative, and we hope ‘On My Way’ is really ‘on its way’!”

For more information see the ParcelHero industry report ‘Amazon’s Prime Ambition’: