Amazon is reportedly working on a new service called Amazon Flex that will involve either its rumored crowdsourced delivery program or an initiative that allows customers to pick up their packages direct from one of the company’s facilities.
The rumor comes from a recent report in Geekwire where they visited Amazon’s new Kirkland, Washington, facility and discovered signs hinting at the possibility of a self-collection service. A photo from the Prime Now center shows a sign with an Amazon Flex header along with the message: "Please take a ticket located behind you. Please look for your number on the top corner of the wall on your left. Proceed to pick up your package once your number is displayed."
Amazon already provides a self-pickup service via Amazon Lockers, but it is still dependent on a courier delivering the items, has shipping rates, and all goods have size and weight limits; issues that collecting a package from the source would avoid.
An alternative explanation for the sign could be that it relates to Amazon’s rumored crowdsourced package delivery service. This program will supposedly recruit local members of the public, rather than couriers, to help deliver the company’s items. A ‘proper badge wear’ diagram on the wall behind the Amazon Flex sign lends some credence to this theory.
If Amazon Flex does prove to be a crowdsourced delivery program, then it could be just what the company needs to reduce the 31% increase in shipping costs it suffered last year. It’s also been suggested that this type of delivery system could be integrated into the Prime Now one-hour delivery service.
The company has experimented with using non-couriers to deliver its packages in the past; last year, Amazon paid Uber and taxi drivers about $5 each to deliver goods in San Francisco, but it didn’t expand the program.
Amazon has not yet commented on the rumors.