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Amazon has more or less mastered the art of delivering products to your home in an affordable, timely fashion. In its quest for perfection, however, the e-commerce giant has inadvertently helped foster a band of thieves known as porch pirates.
According to smart home device maker August, 11 million US homeowners had a package stolen in 2016. Furthermore, a survey from Shorr Packaging reveals that nearly one in three US shoppers have had a shipment swiped by thieves.
It's becoming quite the problem and not just for shoppers.
Natalie Berg, an analyst at Planet Retail RNG, points out that in addition to the financial cost, failed delivery can impact a brand's reputation and customer loyalty.
In an effort to cut down on failed deliveries, Amazon is reportedly working with a company called Phrame which makes a license plate frame for your vehicle that doubles as a secure lock box. The idea is that delivery personnel could use Phrame to access a key to your car, open your trunk and place your package inside for safekeeping.
Rumors surfaced late last month that Amazon was working with at least two connected security product manufacturers - August and Garageio - on an initiative that would grant delivery people temporary access to your home for the same purpose. Walmart announced a similar in-home service around the same time in partnership with August and Deliv.
According to a recent report from CNBC, it appears as though Amazon has decided to develop its own smart doorbell device to achieve similar results. Presumably, it'd be a lot like Gate, a smart lock with a built-in video doorbell.
While not confirmed, the report notes that Phrame products could be offered to Prime members free of charge. The doorbell may also be used for grocery delivery in regions where Amazon Fresh service is offered.
Attempting to solve the last-mile delivery quandary isn't a new venture as Amazon for years has experimented with private delivery lockers. There's also Photo on Delivery, a service in which Amazon will take a picture of a delivered package and send it to the customer.
Theft isn't the only issue that online shoppers have to contend with. If left out in the elements, a sudden downpour can quickly ruin a package and its contents. Even something as simple as a gust of wind could send a lightweight package sailing.
Of the two proposed options, vehicle trunk delivery seems to be the most practical. Personally, I'd rather gamble on someone stealing a package from my front door than let a stranger enter my home while I'm not there. Time will tell if the market is receptive to the idea.
Lead image courtesy jlenda, 123RF