Amazon is introducing a new system that gives customers the ability to remotely grant access to their homes for online deliveries. The service known as Amazon Key relies on a mobile app together with Amazon’s new intelligent security camera Cloud Cam and a compatible smart lock.
Prime members using Amazon Key can shop online and select the fulfilment method “in-home delivery”. This then grants access for Amazon couriers to open the front door and place packages securely inside the shopper’s home.
When a courier arrives to deliver the package, the item is scanned and Amazon’s cloud system checks whether the delivery is in the right location before granting access. The camera starts recording and customers receive a notification and can watch the delivery in real-time or later on their mobile phone.
Amazon Key will be available in 37 US cities from 8 November, with more locations rolling out over time. An Amazon Key package including camera, a smart lock and free installation will cost USD249.99 (EUR225.85)
Amazon is continually working on new ways to solve the biggest issue for online shopping – what to do when the shopper is not there. From click & collect to Amazon lockers and even working with Audi to deliver items to the boots of our cars, it is a problem in which the retailer is investing much time and effort trying to solve for customers. Not only Amazon, Walmart is also active in this space. In September it was reported that Walmart was testing a concept with a third party same-day delivery company Deliv, to deliver groceries straight to customers’ fridges. This also works using a smart lock and a one-time passcode that is received by the courier to gain access.
Amazon’s latest solution certainly fixes the growing problem of so-called “porch pirates” taking packages when they are left outside our homes in an unattended delivery. But it introduces new challenges, around trust and security. Amazon may be one of the most trusted retail brands on the planet, but it appears to be a big leap of faith to allow its couriers directly into our homes. For this reason it is the most loyal shoppers that are being targeted, Amazon Prime members, and only in cities where deliveries are made by Amazon Logistics. Yet, despite these assurances, it seems that there are plenty of risks in terms of security that might make it difficult for shoppers to overcome the trust barrier. It would only take one breach to destroy Amazon’s credibility on this.
Additionally, the system can only be used when shopping on Amazon, which makes it rather limited in terms of its usability. Surely shoppers that have this problem and are willing to let Amazon couriers into their homes are likely to want to be able to do this for their packages from other retailers as well?
Yet, a solution like this may not always require access direct into our homes. The system may work well for shoppers where they have a “safe” area that packages can be left that is not directly inside the living space of the home. A secure garage, porch or apartment lobby, for instance. Perhaps with this in mind we will see new homes being built with two secure doors and perhaps even a fridge just inside. Smart solutions are here to stay and they are continuing to evolve to become smarter and safer. Whether Amazon will dominate in this space seems dubious, but it is certainly upping the stakes in its search for solutions.