Amazon is always looking to get a leg up on its e-commerce rivals and curb rising shipping costs. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company is now considering paying ordinary people to ferry packages to customers on their way to other destinations.
The project is tentatively titled “On My Way,” though timing and specifics haven’t yet been made public. (In fact, the Journal notes that people familiar with the matter say “it is possible the company won’t move ahead”.) Amazon already offers lockers for customers to pick up deliveries at their convenience at 7-Eleven and other retailers. “On My Way” would stockpile deliveries at retailers and alert couriers to potential package pickups via a mobile app.
The move would essentially crowdsource some Amazon deliveries and follow a model similar to the one used by the company’s Mechanical Turk platform to outsource tasks to gig workers. Amazon isn’t the first company to float this concept: Two years ago, Walmart toyed with the idea of a customer-to-customer delivery service. Uber and Instacart are currently testing same-day delivery with contract workers.
The Journal reports that Amazon’s shipping costs jumped 31% last year, while sales only grew 19.5 percent. The e-commerce giant could conceivably save costs through limited adoption of freelance delivery, but it faces serious logistical, legal, and business partnership challenges in implementing the program. The upside? It will still be easier than getting delivery drones off the ground.