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?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
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
Guest

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
Guest

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
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
3 years 6 months ago

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
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
3 years 6 months ago

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 »