Amazon has rolled out a new service in the Seattle area, using independent drivers to deliver packages to your home. Amazon Flex will be used in conjunction with the online retailer’s Prime Now service to deliver packages to customers in an hour or less.


Anyone who wants to deliver for Amazon must have a license, a car, an Android phone, be over 21, and pass a background check. Drivers will be able to create their own schedules by signing up for time slots using an app Amazon has created. Then, packages will be picked up by the assigned drivers from mini-warehouses throughout the Seattle metropolitan area. The online retailer will pay drivers between $18 and $25 an hour.  



By releasing the new delivery service in the early fall, there should be enough time to work out most of the kinks before the holiday season starts. November and December are the busiest months of the year for retailers, and Amazon will need to have the new service running at full strength to see if it is worth implementing in other urban areas.


The new service should help Amazon cut down on its shipping costs which grew by 31 percent last year. In an effort to offset increased costs, Amazon upped the price of Prime unlimited shipping and video by 25 percent. If Flex turns out to be a success and can be adapted to a larger scale, Amazon may be able to cut into its expenses while at the same time providing customers with quicker deliveries.


The use of independent contractors could create some potential headaches, however. Some customers may not like the idea of strangers who are only loosely affiliated with Amazon having access to their personal property and knowing their address. Instances of theft or damage to a package can also be problematic, as Amazon will most likely bear full responsibility and have no way to reprimand the delivery driver.


Amazon Flex will soon be expanded to include Manhattan, Baltimore, Miami, Dallas, Austin, Chicago, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Portland.  


Will Amazon be able successfully roll out Flex on a large scale level? Is it okay for Amazon to release your personal property and address to independent contractors? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @Andrew_Morse4