Amazon wants random Aussies to deliver parcels
Online retail giant Amazon is today calling for everyday Aussie drivers to deliver its parcels in what experts warn is a strike against Australia Post, courier companies, and old-fashioned bricks and mortar stores.
Amazon Australia launched its Flex scheme in Sydney and Melbourne, calling for wannabe delivery drivers to transport packages for four hours at a time.
The service, which operates through an app in a similar way to Uber Eats, will see anyone who passes as background check, verifies their driver's licence, and vouches their insurance and car are up to the task deliver online purchases around Australia.
Amazon Australia operators director Craig Fuller said the service was designed to speed up deliveries in Australia's two largest capital cities while providing drivers with a way to "earn extra money" while setting their own schedules.
"We're always looking at new ways to deliver convenience to customers," Mr Fuller said.
"As customer demand and delivery needs continue to grow in Australia, Amazon Flex gives us the agility to supplement the work we do with our existing carrier partners so we can speed up delivery items and respond to peaks in demand."
But Gartner global retail principal research analyst Thomas O'Connor said Amazon Flex would directly threaten the businesses of Australia Post and courier companies like DHL, TNT and Toll, just like Amazon challenged FedEx and the US Postal Service overseas.
"This is another key sign that Amazon is committed to investing in the Australian market and sees the Australian market has high potential," he said.
"It creates a lot of pressure within this space. We'll see the likes of Australia Post and Toll really thinking about how they can lift their game and differentiate themselves."
Mr O'Connor said Amazon's new delivery service could also help address disappointment local shoppers experienced after the tech giant launched in Australia, as delivery times were slower than those offered in other markets.
"That's an area where some customers have been a bit underwhelmed when it comes to Amazon in Australia," he said. "The two-day delivery promise with Prime hasn't felt quite as fast as what people had anticipated so this is why we see this service coming."
Aussie drivers can register as Amazon Flex partners using its Apple or Android app today, though they must pass a driver's licence verification test and background check that can take up to two weeks.
It's also not clear how much Flex drivers will be paid to deliver Amazon parcels in Australia, though each four-hour block shown in the app will feature a "minimum payment" for completing deliveries.