Will Prime members give Amazon the key to their cars?

Source: Amazon
Apr 24, 2018
George Anderson

Amazon.com has announced that Amazon Key, the service that affords the e-tailer access to the homes of customers to make deliveries, is being expanded to include cars, as well.

Amazon Key In-Car enables Prime members with compatible cars to give the e-tailer access to their vehicles when they are parked at home, work or other publicly-accessible space. The service is now available in 37 cities and surrounding areas with plans to further expand the offer. Millions of items will be available for same-day, two-day and standard shipping from Amazon.

A YouTube video of first-time users shows them praising the service. One of the featured customers on the video says, “I needed a few birthday presents for my daughter and thought this would be the perfect use because she won’t find them, and the packages won’t be stolen from my doorstep.”

Customers wanting to take advantage of the new service download the Amazon Key App, which links their Amazon account with their connect car account. Once set up, customers shop on Amazon and select the “in-car” delivery option at checkout.

Customers are notified on the day of delivery to establish location and timing. They can also track when their cars are unlocked and relocked.

“Since launching Amazon Key last November, we’ve safely delivered everything from cameras to collectable coins inside the home. Customers have also told us they love features like keyless guest access and being able to monitor their front door from anywhere with the Amazon Key App,” said Peter Larsen, vice president of delivery technology, Amazon, in a statement. “In-car delivery gives customers that same peace of mind and allows them to take the Amazon experience with them. And, with no additional hardware or devices required, customers can start ordering in-car delivery today.”

In-car delivery is available with compatible 2015 or newer Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicles with active OnStar accounts. There are currently seven million General Motors-made cars on the road that are compatible with the service. Amazon’s in-car delivery is also available with compatible 2015 or newer Volvos with an On Call account.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect that Amazon customers will be more willing to give the e-tailer access to their cars than their homes? What benefits and pitfalls do you see? Will this service be a positive selling point for Prime subscriptions?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"If you have a driveway you probably live in a more upscale neighborhood, so your packages are probably safe anyway. Just sayin’."
"With package theft rising, and some employers banning deliveries to their offices, Amazon needs new ways to get products into the hands of consumers."
"Amazon will need a complimentary service of replacing broken glass, as that's what happens frequently to cars with visible packages here in Portland."

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24 Comments on "Will Prime members give Amazon the key to their cars?"

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Shep Hyken

If you’re asking me to choose between giving you the keys to my home or the keys to my car (to leave a package), the obvious and safe answer is the car. But this is Amazon, known for service and reliability, so I’m happy to do either. That said, the car will win. Access to the car doesn’t mean access to starting the car and driving away. Amazon continues to push innovation in customer service to higher levels.

Art Suriano

I think it’s a great idea and I commend Amazon for their ingenuity. I do see the problem with needing OnStar which has lost a lot of its popularity through the years and is only available on GM products. But if the idea catches on, I’m sure Amazon will work out arrangements with other car manufacturers like Ford/Lincoln and their Sync service. I hope the program will not attract thieves looking for and following the Amazon truck, so they can break into the car to steal the packages. That’s the only downside and hopefully a tiny one.

Max Goldberg

Amazon’s in-car delivery service is simply the next step in the company’s goal of making deliveries as easy as possible, while adding another important benefit to Prime membership. I think more people will give Amazon access to their cars before they give Amazon access to their homes.

Ben Ball

The biggest deterrent to using the service will be the requirement to have an active “On ____” account with your auto company. Amazon needs to find another way to provide all Prime members access to the service with no additional communications company service fees.

Georganne Bender

People are already using this service so we know it works. We also know by what’s going on with Facebook that people are willing to share just about anything.

As a consumer and Amazon Prime member, giving strangers access to my car and home? Well, let me just quote the gate keeper from the Wizard of Oz: Not no way, not no how.

Ken Lonyai

Surely I’m the only one here to see that the emperor has no clothes.

From Amazon’s standpoint, of course, this is a great idea. More access, more data, and certainly more trust wrapped up in a convenience or perception thereof. For some consumers, I can see the practicality.

Overall, it baffles my mind that so many roll over for just about anything a corporation throws at them in the name of convenience and kinda sorta instant gratification. For those of us that live in or frequent places like NYC, it’s foolishness to place something in a trunk of a car on the street and then walk away. For some Prime customers, the added convenience of in-car delivery will be tempered with the added inconvenience of higher insurance premiums post-theft.

The saving grace for all of this is the voluntary aspect of these programs–for that matter the voluntary aspect of shopping Amazon.

Georganne Bender

I’m with you on this one, Ken!

Cathy Hotka

So am I!

Ed Rosenbaum

I tend to agree with most of your comments Ken. For me, it would have to be something in the line of critical for me to allow a delivery to my car. And if that is the case, how far away am I from the car that the delivery could not be made to me personally? Going a step further, most people are not that far from their car at any given time that a delivery had to be made there and not to the person directly. I can reluctantly understand some home deliveries; but car deliveries, although it is going to happen, does not seem to be an important need. Lazy, yes; but important, no.

Evan Snively

I have never personally had a package stolen, but I live in a suburban area with a lot less accessibility than most. For metro area dwellers who trust Amazon both options sound reasonable – though I would greatly prefer the car. If I did allow access to my home my first purchase would probably be a suite of Ring home security products, so — well played Amazon, well played.

Sky Rota
11 months 1 day ago

First of all the video wasn’t the greatest example as most of the cars had pitch-black tinted windows and the neighborhoods looked like they were private suburban neighborhoods. If you have a driveway you probably live in a more upscale neighborhood, so your packages are probably safe anyway. Just sayin’. I would like to see a delivery dropping off packages in a car in a busy city area. Where tons of people are walking buy watching the delivery person leave packages in an empty car. Now would you feel your packages are safe? And speaking as the son of a Numismatist (coin collector), if the “collectable coins” were worth any kind of money, Amazon wouldn’t even insure them and last time I checked Brink’s trucks deliver them and you definitely need a signature. Don’t believe everything you read.

Kai Clarke

Yes. Access to one’s car, for a limited time, increases the opportunities for a successful delivery attempt, an enhanced customer service experience and a level of customer satisfaction that will put Prime membership above all others. With proper safety steps, insurance and online feedback this should become the standard. The only drawbacks are controlling temperature in the car (especially in the summer) and ensuring that customer security is high.

Peter Luff

I carried out a quick straw poll around the office and the approach got a resounding no for both homes and cars. This included Amazon Prime users. Somewhat of a surprise bearing in mind this seems to be a working model.

Doug Garnett

Amazon is scurrying around trying to solve this problem. Yet the press I read on every minor solution makes it sound like a utopia of safe delivery has arrived.

Yes. Amazon has a serious problem of package security in neighborhoods with safety issues. The most solid solution is pickup spots near those homes. However, some homeowners will take advantage of allowing them to put things in their cars.

The logical problem I have is whether it’s worth it to buy the junker in which you’re going to have Amazon leave the packages — because good cars exist to be driven and because the individual needs it.

Kiri Masters

This new program is part of Amazon’s mission to target new customer segments and roll out features to attract and retain Prime members. Following the launch of the in-home Key secure delivery product, Amazon is looking for more ways to make online shopping convenient for customers. With package theft rates rising, and some employers banning online shopping deliveries to their offices, Amazon needs new ways to get products into the hands of consumers.

Lee Kent

Many of us in car-dependent cities are in our cars all the time. So I have a hard time seeing the scenario that fits, but obviously people are doing it and liking it so it works for some. I’m still of the opinion that lockers and perhaps some kind of porch locker are the better answers. Of course, I have yet to see new homes being built with package drop areas built in but I am certainly expecting it. For my 2 cents.

Rick Moss

I don’t think we’re all being fair. Sure, consumers are facing risks with such a service, but Amazon is taking its fair share of risks as well. Consider what delivery folks may encounter in the trunks of those cars: rattlesnakes, kidnapping victims, that gym bag you forgot to launder last fall — last week’s Amazon delivery of broccoli and limburger. Convenience — it comes with a cost, people.

Gabriela Baiter

We’ve seen over time that generations are willing to give up more and more of their privacy. What started as giving up their birthday to Facebook, has extended to people giving up their homes and cars to complete strangers with Uber and Airbnb. If this follows the same trend, granting access to people’s vehicles is just the beginning and homes will become a natural extension.

Lastly, lets not forget Amazon’s recent $1 billion acquisition of Ring (video doorbell). This is a major step to increasing safety measures with deliveries and in turn driving Prime usage by eliminating customer pain points.

Mike Osorio

I agree completely Gabriella. The willingness to give away aspects of privacy by Gens X, Y and Z, and increasingly boomers is well documented. That is the target audience and I think there will be strong take-up if/when Amazon is able to work with more auto makers to add technology to grant access. Further, I agree that the acquisition of Ring points to a suite of personal security devices which will extend to cars and other potential personal delivery “lockers.” The customer will decide where they want to pick up their item: at the front door, their office, the post office, at Whole Foods, Amazon Key in their home, in their car, or…?

Craig Sundstrom

“…and the packages won’t be stolen from my doorstep.” No, they’ll be stolen from your backseat. Presumably they’re placed in the trunk — except of course that most SUV’s don’t really have a trunk – but I just don’t see this really working: sure there’ll be people who like it, but I think they will be far outnumbered by those creeped out by it, and it won’t take but a few “oops!” incidents to discredit it.

Carlos Arambula

Access to cars seems less about convenience and more about theft prevention. So in order to prevent package theft, Amazon suggests consumers amplify their risk by increasing the chances of vandalism to their vehicles?

I do think there is a need to reduce the risk associated with theft and home deliveries, and not just for Amazon but all similar commerce. However, this feels like using a band-aid to treat a serious flesh wound; it will technically stop some of the bleeding, but it’s ineffective.

Amazon and all retailers in the categoy need to address theft prevention as an industry, it should be a price of entry to the category not a merchandising tool.

Peter Charness

All sorts of high tech solutions to the problem of not at home, safely delivering packages. For the car thing, Amazon will need a complimentary service of replacing broken glass, as that is what happens too frequently to cars with visible packages in them here in Portland. Access to the house … hmmm, no thanks. While I hate to be a throwback, if there was a “locked package mail box/locker” that costs under $200 (look for one on Amazon for less) that I could put on my porch to receive the 95% of my Amazon deliveries that would fit, I’d go right past all the high tech answers and put one of those out. Maybe just for us Primers, Amazon?

Rich Kizer

We just finished a store visit and consultation. During our time on the floor, I asked customers if they were aware of the Amazon house and car delivery service. Most had heard the news. But the vast majority of responses were not real favorable: “That’s weird,” “I think that’s going a little to far.” “They have the (keys) to my house, and now they want my car?” One shopper responded, “I think I’m better off just going to the store.” (And all the brick and mortars cheer). It is about convenience, but I’m not sure everyone is feeling comfortable.

Ricardo Belmar

The real power of this solution is not the solution itself but that Amazon demonstrates they are serious about innovating the delivery issue. Whether consumers really take the option of in-home delivery or on-car delivery is not what is significant about this announcement. It’s all about how Amazon shows us the ease with which they can introduce ANY solution and EVERYONE takes notice! What have consumers learned from this? That Amazon will continue to find new ways to deliver their packages, no matter how many options/methods it takes, in as safe a manner as possible. Will every option work for every consumer? No, some will be tailored to urban areas, some to suburban, and others, to … who knows — until the next press release!

"If you have a driveway you probably live in a more upscale neighborhood, so your packages are probably safe anyway. Just sayin’."
"With package theft rising, and some employers banning deliveries to their offices, Amazon needs new ways to get products into the hands of consumers."
"Amazon will need a complimentary service of replacing broken glass, as that's what happens frequently to cars with visible packages here in Portland."

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