Amazon to begin making in-home deliveries in 37 cities

Discussion
Source: Amazon
Oct 25, 2017
George Anderson

Amazon.com has announced the launch of Amazon Key, a new service that allows Prime members to have orders delivered inside their homes.

Amazon Key will initially be available in 37 cities starting on Nov. 8. The service will cover millions of products sold on Amazon and will not cost anything additional for Prime members. Amazon Key will work with all of the e-tailer’s free home delivery options — same-day, one-day, two-day and standard shipping. Once a customer has set up the service, they may select the in-home option while shopping. Amazon said it will handle the rest with “no passcodes, no fuss,” according to a company press release.

Amazon Key enables Prime members to monitor deliveries with real-time delivery notifications and gives them the ability to use video to see products being delivered live or later after the delivery is complete.

To gain access to a customer’s home, drivers need to request access. Amazon verifies that the correct driver is at the right destination through an encrypted process. Once access is granted, drivers are recorded by an Amazon Cloud Cam as the door is unlocked.

Prime members interested in the service may pre-order the Amazon Key kit that includes the Cloud Cam and compatible smart locks. Customers may install the kits themselves or take advantage of the free professional installation that comes with each kit. The kits sell for $249.99.

Amazon is planning to leverage Key to offer other services and conveniences beyond product deliveries. Prime members, for example, will be able to grant keyless access to family and friends. The company also plans to offer services such as Merry Maids house cleaning, pet sitters and dog walkers from Rover.com, and thousands of others through Amazon Home Services.

“Amazon Key will make it even easier to cross a major chore off your to-do list by letting the professionals at Merry Maids take care of the house cleaning while you’re not home,” said Nik Varty, CEO of ServiceMaster, the parent company of Merry Maids, in a statement. “We are thrilled to be teaming up with Amazon so that their customers in need of professional home cleaning services can take advantage of this innovative, convenient and secure service.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What impact will Amazon Key have on Amazon’s business and those of rival retailers? Do you see other retailers or services such as Google Express jumping into this type of service quickly now that Amazon has announced the launch of Amazon Key?

Braintrust
"Once the psychological sanctity of the 'castle' is penetrated, Amazon will have essentially become a trusted family member. "
"If there is one company that customers will trust with a service like this, it’s Amazon."
"If it does significantly improve the Amazon customer experience, it will be another lock-in factor and yet another bar-raiser for Amazon competitors."

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38 Comments on "Amazon to begin making in-home deliveries in 37 cities"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Amazon Key is another example of how Amazon continues to push the bounds of their service offerings. While there’s no doubt that this service will resonate with some customers, not everyone will feel comfortable with strangers entering their homes — even if they can monitor them on a web cam. I don’t see Google Express responding to Amazon’s new service — I suspect that they will wait and see what the consumer acceptance is and adjust accordingly.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

I’m sorry, I just have a one sentence response to this concept:

This is insane.

Well, here’s a second one: What could possibly go wrong? Where do I begin?

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

What, me worry, Paula? Why should I worry about giving Amazon access to my home and a 24-hour camera at my front door? Everybody knows data breaches are rare! As you said, what could possibly go wrong in this scenario? ;^)

Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

Amazon, through Key, has just upped its game and raised the bar for competitors. How many smart locks will a consumer be willing to install? If they have Key, will it work with other retailers? Key is another example of Amazon leading e-commerce, bettering Prime membership and bringing other services, like Merry Maids, to consumers.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

This is pushing the bounds alright, but I thinks it will have limited appeal. Do the masses really need this service?

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

We all know that the last mile is the most painful part of online ordering, not least because of the hassle associated with missing deliveries or having to wait home for products to arrive.

This is a good solution and, in typical Amazon style, the company has developed a kit to allow keyless access as well as some security and “peace of mind” features such as video footage of the delivery.

Not everyone will wish to use this, but for those that do this is a very credible solution. One wonders why the delivery companies are nowhere near as innovative as Amazon …

Art Suriano
BrainTrust

I like the concept, but I don’t see it as a big win in the near future. I think the more significant benefit of Amazon Key may be allowing access to family members and friends and not so much for deliveries. Even though there is a video showing what took place, I can see customers being reluctant to allow strangers into their homes, fearing that the delivery person will see what they have and worrying that they may be prone to theft in the future.

I have a security system and grant access to my cleaning person with a personal code so she can clean while my wife and I are at work. My family has access also through the security system when needed while we’re away. So the idea isn’t new. But how will customers respond for deliveries? That is something we’ll have to wait and see.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

It’s another bold move by Amazon to broaden its reach, but the adoption is likely to be slow given the inherent risks and the price of entry (so to speak). Though given the large numbers already allowing house cleaners, dog walkers and so forth into their homes while at work or away, this may be a bigger success than expected. Rest assured that Amazon has done its homework to understand the potential size of the market.

Sterling Hawkins
BrainTrust

One small step for Amazon. Part of a giant leap for the retail industry. Retail is completely transforming last-mile delivery with Walmart delivering in-fridge, Postmates delivering via Starship Robots and UPS testing drone delivery. Amazon will appropriately address any privacy/security concerns and I agree with Dick that it’s a slower adoption (cost of entry for users) leading to a larger success than we might predict. Last-mile is a massive opportunity right now and leave it to Amazon to continue to be on the leading edge of innovation.

Keith Anderson
BrainTrust

Among the heaviest users of Prime, I suspect this program may have some appeal. For those with concerns about “porch pirates,” it may eliminate some friction or perceived risk.

I’m intrigued that it’s rolling out to 37 areas immediately. Amazon typically pilots new initiatives on a smaller scale and only rolls them out when they’ve been tested and optimized, but this seems like an aggressive rollout.

If it does significantly improve the Amazon customer experience, it will be another lock-in factor and yet another bar-raiser for Amazon competitors.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

I think this is terrific for Merry Maids and Rover as Amazon’s coattails are massive and get them great exposure. For Amazon, this doesn’t even have to scale — it gets them in the press, again. But I can’t help but think something high profile will go wrong from all of Amazon’s limitless connectedness to our homes via Alexa and now Key.

Zel Bianco
BrainTrust

I think the impact will be significant, especially as the service will be free for Prime customers. I bet this approach will actually increase the number of shoppers signing up for Prime. The cost to install the system seems a little high but if it works well I think that most people will bite the bullet if they plan on using the other services like Merry Maids. If for deliveries only, the cost is too high. This may be the answer in the suburbs and in rural areas, but in cities where many buildings have a doorman or an area where packages are delivered and held for you to pick up, I don’t know if it would make sense. As to the impact on others like Walmart and Google, how can they ignore this? Amazon will keep up the challenge.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

Amazon continues to test alternative delivery methods so this latest innovations is not unexpected. In essence this latest foray, including lots of valuable services while the owners are gone (e.g., Merry Maids house cleaning) underscores Amazon’s position that it is not simply a world class logistics provider. Instead, it is a customer needs and wants solution for Americans’ drive for more convenience and simplicity in their harried lives.

The kit fee and the security concerns of customers may prevent some customers from signing up for this service. However, there are “riches in niches” that Amazon recognizes from such a platform to get closer to those customers demanding these time-saving services.

Regarding followers, Amazon has raised the bar in terms of technology and related services. The company’s continued push of “first mover” advantages puts significant pressure on competitive followers.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

So Amazon says “Let a delivery guy come into your home. But it’ll be okay. We will put in a camera that watches you all the time.”

What could go wrong? It remains to be seen how many consumers, in this age of justifiable suspicion, will adopt this service. Only then can we know whether this will impact other retailers.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

Perhaps they’ll even have drones open the door and drop off the goods. The free PR Amazon gets is fabulous.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

Do we feel confident enough that our privacy will be secured once the delivery is completed? Or will the eyes behind the camera have open access to our home even when we are there?

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

Agree with your concern, Ed. Plenty of examples so far where these devices send private information out of our homes without approval or notification.

And Paula nails it as well. The PR Amazon gets every time they announce something like this is tremendous for them.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Considering the high entry costs, Amazon’s newest innovation, the Amazon Key may not have the highest adoption rates. There are plenty of security and safety considerations to be worked out, as consumers will be providing access to their home and valuables.

We can agree that the most challenging aspect of today’s digital-first commerce world is the last mile. It will be interesting to see how this takes off, and what the reaction will be from loyal Prime members.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

Amazon is probing a critical cultural aspect of how pervasive (and invasive) consumers are willing to let them be. Once the psychological sanctity of the “castle” is penetrated, Amazon will have essentially become a trusted family member. One afforded relatively free access to the home, but also trusted to select others (Merry Maids or whomever) to grant and police access to the home as well. This will not be successful on package delivery alone. It depends on consumers being willing to make Amazon the service provider gatekeeper to the castle.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Good points Ben! They are already “virtually” a trusted family member with the ubiquitous Alexa devices all throughout our homes …

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust
Well, once again Amazon has us all talking about it. I think of Key in much the same way I thought of drone delivery — great for getting free publicity, illustrative of the way Amazon keeps thinking outside the box, a creative tool for torturing competitors, just not a very practical idea. I’ve been close to the whole deliver in the home idea since the old Streamline days and while I get the idea, the execution always seems to leave a little bit to be desired. I’ve often said that Amazon’s goal is to surround the customer in as many ways as possible and Key is just one more step along that path. The real issue here — as with voice activation — is determining how much prime- (sorry about the pun) mover advantage is worth in this space. Obviously if — and it’s a HUGE if — consumers are going to accept the idea of allowing access into their homes, they are only going to allow one company the rights. That’s what Amazon seems… Read more »
Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

There are certain things you should just say no to: gas station sushi, eating the worm at the bottom of the mezcal bottle and letting a huge multinational technology company with no accountability have access to your home.

Manish Chowdhary
BrainTrust

If there is one company that customers will trust with a service like this, it’s Amazon.

That said, allowing any individual to enter the home without the owner’s presence is a huge hurdle. If the concept is to thwart porch pirates by leaving deliveries inside the home, then who would prefer to give access to the entire home? Should I take my chances with one package? Or with all of my possessions?

People are much more likely to use this with their cleaning services, who likely already know where the hidden key is, than they are to use it for deliveries.

Google won’t be able to follow suit. The trust hurdle will be far greater. Would Google follow up with Google Maps Home View? — Go from the satellite view to the street view to inside the home? Doubtful, but that’s how Google’s intentions may be viewed by many.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

Once again Amazon is going for it. Will it be successful? That all depends on how you measure success. I am certain some consumers will go for this but many will remain skeptical. And I am sitting here scratching my head about the cost they will be eating. Eating shipping costs is one thing but eating in-home delivery? That sounds like a WOW to me. I do not think other retailers will be jumping on this bandwagon until they see how it shakes out. For my 2 cents.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

Some people who are concerned about packages being stolen from outside their doors may be interested. However, the publicity surrounding the first bad incident will make even those consumers hesitant. The potential for problems is likely to make many more consumers hesitant to try this service.

Yoav Vilner
BrainTrust
2 months 23 days ago

Many might think this is “pushing the bounds” but I have to disagree. Once more Amazon has shown us how innovative their products and services can be. This is not a service that each consumer will have to necessarily implement when purchasing products on Amazon. Amazon Key is an extra service that is meant to be adopted by a very large portion of Amazon users. There are surely good reasons behind the launch of this service and Amazon is probably trying to solve a major problem (lack of time at home) of their consumers.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

Will this be successful? Yes because Amazon is behind it. Does it have any inherent problems? Yes, because you are opening your house to strangers while you are not there. Can the problems be overcome? Yes, because Amazon is again pushing the boundaries farther out than one could ever imagine, even two years ago. The bigger question to me is why would I spend $250 to get the kit when I can pick up the package at my doorstep when I arrive home? Have we gotten that lazy?

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust
If it were easy, expected and in the mainstream we wouldn’t be talking about it. Amazon is doing more than the proverbial “pushing the envelope.” They’re leveraging multiple technological threads to create new business models and novel processes that ensure they maintains the innovation lead in consumer industries. Amazon has certainly made technology a core competency and weapon as it continues to disrupt value chains across multiple industries. In 2016, the company was granted 1,662 patents and was the biggest gainer in number of patents filed.` Yet without the high trust level associated with the brand, any initiative that provides access by a stranger to your home would be fraught with serious risks for both consumer and company. That’s why this is a self-selection process by the consumer. We’ve come a very long way since the milkman made his rounds delivering dairy products to your kitchen (which also carried safety risks). Today, technology operates to bring back a level of convenience that was lost since the mass adoption of self-serve supermarkets — for those that… Read more »
Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Amazon is a master at retail innovation. And once a Prime member makes the investment to install the lock system, they are even more likely to use Amazon. The lock will be able to be used for other people, and that includes other retailers. Will Google Express and others (Walmart is already on this solution) be faster to this concept? … YES!

Mark Nicholson
Guest

A bold move that will require a shift in consumer behavior. Adoption will likely be slow. While many other retailers or services might be interested to be part of this, Amazon will probably keep it closed to others for a while. This will have to play out, as there are all kinds of possibilities (both positive and negative) that will determine whether it is successful. It will be interesting to see if an increase in smart home products occurs, and if there are other spin-off services as a result.

John Karolefski
BrainTrust

Let’s see if I can be diplomatic. The $250 set-up fee makes this service unlikely to be accepted by most people. Enough with diplomacy. Is this service cool, creepy or stupid? I choose Door 3, Monty.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
Taking a different take on all of this, I’d say it says more about what we all value in our lives more than it says about Amazon as a business. The Key service itself isn’t new in the sense that people with security systems have been using special codes to let people into their homes when they are not there for years now. Whether it’s cleaning people, dog walkers, etc., that aspect isn’t new. What is new is the application and the provider. Amazon’s idea for using this to deliver packages into your home will appeal to some people and not others. I’d expect those who feel they are at risk for package theft from their front door will like the concept. For others, I’m not sure that alone will be appealing enough to spend $250 for the kit. For those with existing security systems, how will the equipment in the kit interact with their existing systems? Lots of potential complexity. I’d argue the real value here is that once again Amazon has caused all… Read more »
Georganne Bender
Guest

As a consumer, I want to date technology, I don’t want to marry it. And I don’t want random people having access to my home. I’m with Bob Phibbs on this one. I think it’s a ploy for publicity heading into the holidays. And with Paula Rosenblum: What could possibly go wrong?

Kiri Masters
BrainTrust

Well played, Amazon.

This solves a major consumer pain point of missed deliveries, theft, and damage. Again, Amazon innovates with the customer in mind.

Sure, it is mostly attractive to a certain segment of customers who are plagued by issues with mail carriers. But you can bet that those customers will be ordering from Amazon with heightened frequency using this new program and bypassing competitors. The Amazon flywheel just started spinning a bit faster for that demographic.

Shawn Harris
BrainTrust

I stick by my comment on RetailWire’s 10/3/16 piece: “Will customers give Amazon the keys to their smart homes?”

Comment from 10/3/16:

“I completely believe that this is a concept that could see wide adoption. Airbnb has helped in resetting the idea of what personal space means and blockchain technology will allow for secure, immutable, one-time access to home IoT locks. Delivery person tracking and home tracking (cameras, mobile device and presence sensors) will play an over-the-top role for auditing behavior. Insurance will cover the rest.”

Naomi K. Shapiro
BrainTrust

Methinks it’s scary, as the skeptic BrainTrusters have amply pointed out. And The Merry Maids must be jumping in the aisles with the publicity (which reminds me that my house needs cleaning) and I will let them in, but not via an electronic key.

Jett McCandless
BrainTrust
This is intriguing. Amazon is pushing the boundaries of how far into their personal space they’re willing to allow corporations. So far, people seem fine with inviting them into their homes (think Alexa, Siri, Google Home, Smart TVs, and countless other forms of data collection.) These companies have built up enough trust, so it seems like they’re going to be alright with giving Amazon this level of access. I can’t help but think 20, maybe even 10 years ago, people would call you insane if you told them everyday citizens would grant a mega corporation access to the lock on their front door, complete with a camera to monitor everything. Times have certainly changed. For people who live in busy neighborhoods, or places where theft is a possibility, this is an extremely useful delivery feature. It also gives an extended level of visibility to customer and supply chain partners alike. Furthermore, your home only has one door lock. You can have a smarthome made by two different companies, but can you have a key? I… Read more »
Tony Orlando
BrainTrust

I’m late to the game on this, but in no way would I let some company into my home because Amazon says it’s fine, we got this. Also as a small business, this gives Amazon more power to push companies they represent (Merry Maids and pet walkers, etc.) and it takes trusted jobs away from people who live in the area. For me personally, I would never let someone who I do not know into my house if I’m not home, and many others won’t either. My cleaning lady has a code to get in, and has for 12 years, and not one hair has been touched or moved. So no thanks.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Once the psychological sanctity of the 'castle' is penetrated, Amazon will have essentially become a trusted family member. "
"If there is one company that customers will trust with a service like this, it’s Amazon."
"If it does significantly improve the Amazon customer experience, it will be another lock-in factor and yet another bar-raiser for Amazon competitors."

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