retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Tech Crunch reports that Amazon, having decided not to pursue an acquisition of delivery service Postmates, instead has "built a service that will go head to head in competing with it. The e-commerce giant today took the wraps off Flex, a new on-demand delivery service that relies not on traditional couriers, but ordinary people to bring the packages to you.

"The online retailer is offering workers the ability to make between $18 and $25 per hour by delivering packages for Amazon using their own vehicle and a smartphone app that helps them route their deliveries."

The service is live in Seattle, with a focus on speedy delivery of orders placed with Amazon's Prime Now service, though the company says "that in the future, other types of packages may be delivered, as well."

The Wall Street Journal writes that the service is "the latest move by Amazon in its perpetual drive to lower shipping costs and pare delivery times as it seeks to become the central commercial hub for all shoppers. As part of those efforts, Amazon is building out its own last-mile network and has turned to a widening variety of couriers and delivery workers. to shuttle goods to their destinations - not to mention its goal of delivery by drone."
KC's View:
I'm trying really hard here not to be the old grump who is opposed to progress and can't see the advantages in new economic models ... but I have to admit to reservations about this approach.

I've heard stories from the test about somewhat unsavory types making deliveries; I do think that Amazon has to be careful about managing these delivery folks, because it just creates all sorts of potential problems in terms of safety and security.

Amazon has been bringing in-house some of its delivery functions, which has allowed it to control costs ... but this kind of outsourcing is something else again.

I am open-minded, but uncomfortable.