Amazon May Unveil People-Powered Delivery Service Via “On My Way” App

The newest Amazon drone may get about by way of two legs, not a propeller.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the effort, reported Tuesday (June 16) that the eCommerce giant has a mobile app in the works that would “in some cases” pay people — not carriers like UPS — to deliver packages.

WSJ stated that Amazon would get store-based retailers, chiefly in urban areas, to store packages, with a nod toward renting space or paying a fee per parcel. The service is known within the company as “On My Way” and has an uncertain debut date — if it ever gets off the ground at all.

Amazon refused to comment, but WSJ surmised the move could help give the company some leverage over shipping costs which outpaced revenue growth and grew 31 percent last year. And Amazon would also see another benefit in terms of negotiating leverage with carriers.

Yet some stumbling blocks remain: The company ships about 3.5 million packages daily — that’s a lot of feet needed on the ground. And then there’s an issue of liability — who pays (and how) when packages are mishandled, damaged or never arrive at all?

“On My Way” traces its gestation to an on-demand taxi service, known as Rides, which would have operated similarly to Uber but has since been shelved, WSJ stated, citing people with knowledge of the project. For its part, even though “On My Way” may also take a cue from the company’s lockers featured in 7-Eleven stores and other locations — where retailers are compensated for Amazon’s use of its square footage — it’s not clear at this time how individuals might be compensated for participating in the new program. Some payment options, WSJ reported, could entail cash payments or even site credits.

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