Amazon is running tests for a service that would use its gig economy drivers to deliver packages from malls to customers, according to a report from Bloomberg released earlier this month.
“This is just another way we are able to connect Amazon sellers with customers via convenient delivery options,” Amazon spokeswoman Lauren Samaha said in a statement to the outlet.
If the e-commerce giant keeps the program, drivers will be able to implement faster shipping and same-day deliveries for goods stocked at local malls. According to Bloomberg, the pilot program — which began last year and uses Amazon Flex drivers — is being tested in Chandler, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Tysons Corner, Virginia.
Amazon — which once relied on UPS and the U.S. Post Office for most of its last-mile trips between fulfillment centers and customers’ homes — now handles most of its own shipping capacity. However, the pilot program is not the only niche delivery option the company is pursuing.
Amazon has been covertly tapping mom-and-pop shops to deliver packages for a per-item fee in Nebraska, Mississippi, and Alabama, according to a Vox report from earlier this month. The program helps Amazon reach customers in rural America, where homes are more spread apart — a reality that creates logistical challenges for last-mile deliveries.
“The local businesses Amazon is recruiting range from florists to restaurants to IT shops, and none of them are required to have prior delivery experience — just a commitment to deliver Amazon packages seven days a week, around 360 days a year, and a physical location to receive parcels each morning,” the outlet explained.
Amazon’s business boomed in the wake of COVID-19 and the lockdown-induced recession.
“Amazon is one of the few retailers that has prospered during the pandemic,” the Associated Press reported last summer. “As physical stores selling non-essential goods like clothing temporarily or permanently closed, people stuck at home turned to Amazon for everything from groceries to cleaning supplies.”
Though revenue growth rate jumped from the 20% to 21% range to the 35% to 40% range before and after May 2020, the surge slowed down by the summer of 2020, according to the AP.
Beyond its efforts to innovate last-mile services, Amazon recently gained approval to build its massive “HQ2” in Arlington, Virginia.
“Amazon announced the plans in February 2021 for the eye-catching, 350-foot tower to anchor the second phase of its redevelopment plans,” ABC News reported. “The new office towers will support a second headquarters for Amazon that is expected to welcome more than 25,000 workers when it’s complete.”
The Arlington County Board’s unanimous decision paves the way for Amazon’s plans to erect their new facility, which includes “a walkable ramp wrapping around the building with trees and greenery planted to resemble a mountain hike,” ABC News continued. The public will have access to the ramp on the weekends.
Amazon Vice President of Global Real Estate and Facilities John Schoettler expressed gratitude for “our Arlington neighbors and the County Board” after the authorities’ decision.
“With the County Board’s approval, we look forward to continuing our work with the community as we take the next steps on this journey to build an integrated, innovative, and sustainable second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia,” he said in a statement.