retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy. I'm recording this on a day that started with me spending two hours at the local DMV office and ended with me spending two hours at the dentist. Not exactly my definition of Nirvana…

Anyway, what's on my mind right now is something that has been brought to my attention by a number of MNB readers, as well as by my 19-year-old daughter. All of a sudden, people who have signed up to be notified when their Amazon packages are being delivered are actually being told when their packages are being handed over to the US Postal Service.

That's right. It appears that Amazon is turning packages over to shipping companies like FedEx and UPS, which are then dropping those packages to the post office, where, after all, they have people driving postal routes every day.

Now, I find this interesting. Maybe a little worrying, since I don't have the greatest faith in the post office. It certainly suggests that Amazon's deal with the USPS, which offers Sunday delivery in major metropolitan areas, is part of a thicker delivery web than we might've guessed, with the post office being more important than ever to how it all works. Since I've been suggesting for years that the post office's best chance for relevance was to go to Amazon headquarters and beg Jeff Bezos for the opportunity to be the company's primary delivery vehicle, I can hardly object.

What's hard to know is whether such arrangements will solve the kinds of delivery problems that so many online retailers and delivery carriers suffered from last December. Maybe. But we won't really know that until this December.

My suspicion, however, is that this is just a patchwork solution that is designed to hold just until Amazon can get its own delivery trucks on the road in major markets. Whether this will be a profitable approach for Amazon remains to be seen, and is far beyond my meager analytical skills. But I think the impulse will be to control more of the customer experience - from the website to the delivery - not less as Amazon continues to grow.

My sense is that the more hands that touch a package, the better the chance that somebody is going to screw things up. Which will irritate and frustrate consumers - even those that have not spent too much of the day at the DMV and dentist's office.

That's something that no retailer can afford to do, because it would suggest that at some level management decided that efficiency was more important than effectiveness. My guess - or maybe my assumption - is that Amazon knows this, right down to the very core of its being.

Attention must be paid.

That's what on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

KC's View: