Amazon.com has rolled out a new service in which orders are delivered directly to customers’ cars. The service is designed to foil “porch thieves,” people who steal unattended packages from the front steps of homes after they’re delivered but before they are retrieved.
The program is being rolled out in thirty-seven U.S. cities but there are plans to expand the service. The initiative is part of Amazon’s efforts to cut down on so-called “last mile friction,” the complication-inducing last stage of delivering orders. Since 2011, Amazon has offered secure lockers at various locations for urban customers to cut down on theft.
They’ve also launched a service called Amazon Key, a system that uses a combination of WiFi-operated cameras and locks that allow delivery personnel to access a customer’s home and leave packages just inside front doors. Equipment for that service runs about $220.
By contrast, the in-car delivery service is free for Amazon Prime members, and works through a free app. Customer’s will communicate to Amazon the publicly-accessible location of their parked car, along with identifying information such as model, color and license plate number. Using vehicle connection services, such as GM’s OnStar system, delivery personnel will open the vehicle’s trunk and place the packages inside.
The company is hoping the service will appeal to customers who mind leaving their delivered packages unattended but who may not be comfortable with personnel accessing their homes while not at home. The service will be offered in San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Nashville, Milwaukee, Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C., among other localities.
The company stresses that all information is encrypted between the customer and the service and that the company does receive permanent access to the car. They also say that the company cannot see or track the customer’s car in any way.
General Motors, in a statement, said there are at least 7 millions vehicles that are currently compatible with Amazon’s in-car service. Amazon has not yet disclosed how many customers have enrolled in the program.
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