business news in context, analysis with attitude

CNN has a story about how, while "Amazon's fast deliveries have delighted many customers and helped it grow into one of the world's biggest companies, valued at roughly $1.7 trillion," there have been tradeoffs as Amazon pushes for faster - and later - deliveries.

"In interviews with Amazon delivery business owners and drivers and in a review of conversations on an internal Amazon forum," CNN writes, "dozens of people who work to deliver Amazon packages said that late-night deliveries are often more dangerous and stressful."

While "Amazon is far from the first company to deliver at night, and every delivery person can face difficulties after dark," Amazon's policy of delivering as late as 10 pm - several hours later than standard-operating-procedures at FedEx, UPS, and US Postal Service - can create challenges for drivers, such as homeowners brandishing weapons as drivers approach their homes.

CNN writes:  "The challenge of nighttime deliveries is especially apparent in rural areas, where streetlights are uncommon. Rural customers are more likely to pull a gun on someone entering their property after dark, according to multiple DSP drivers and owners. Drivers unfamiliar with a customer's rural property may not navigate it as effectively in the dark and end up stuck in a rutted dirt driveway.

"Some drivers and DSP owners have at times questioned Amazon's commitment to safety, due to late deliveries. Amazon says drivers shouldn't make deliveries if they feel unsafe, but drivers say they feel an overriding pressure to complete their routes and are sometimes criticized by colleagues or Amazon employees at the delivery stations for returning packages to delivery stations."

KC's View:

Based on everything we know about Amazon's priorities, I must confess to being skeptical about the "drivers shouldn't make deliveries if they feel unsafe" assertion.  The algorithms and tracking mechanisms being used by Amazon and the businesses to which it outsources delivery functionality are unlikely to be able to pick up that fellow with the shotgun or the rutted driveway, and so drivers know they could lose their jobs if they don't make their deliveries in an efficient and timely manner.

In some ways, I think, this is an underlying culture issue.  Amazon needs to address both the perceptions and realities of its priorities and how they impact the people who work for them in the field.  Of course, this will depend on being able to communicate facts about the situation effectively to consumers in a way that manages expectations.