Amazon launches Uber-like package delivery service in Australia

Amazon Flex will enable individuals in Sydney and Melbourne to earn extra money by delivering Amazon packages.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Amazon Australia has launched an Uber-like delivery service with the launch of Amazon Flex in Sydney and Melbourne to allow individuals the chance to earn money while delivering Amazon packages to customers.

"Amazon Flex puts delivery partners in the driver's seat, enabling them to earn extra money with the flexibility to choose their own schedule," said Amazon Australia operations director Craig Fuller.

Individuals in Sydney and Melbourne can sign up to be a delivery partner through the Amazon Flex app, downloadable via the Apple and Android app stores.

According to an Amazon spokesperson, each contractor is required to complete a background check before starting to ensure the security of customers and their packages.

"Safety is our number one priority. Amazon Flex delivery partners are thoroughly vetted independent service providers who must complete background checks," the spokesperson told ZDNet.  

"We assign a customer order to a carrier partner or delivery partner on the basis of many factors using our advanced technology and algorithms. Regardless of the provider, we set high-standards to ensure a best-in-class experience for all customer deliveries."

Read also: Australian Fair Work Ombudsman finds Uber drivers are not employees  

Much like Uber, individuals are required to use their own vehicles. Amazon noted, at minimum, all cars used to deliver packages are required to have personal car insurance and compulsory third-party personal injury. 

When these compulsory insurance requirements are met, Amazon will provide its delivery partners with Amazon Insurance Coverage at no additional cost, which includes auto liability coverage, third-party property damage, and contingent comprehensive coverage. The coverage by Amazon is applicable for when individuals are using Amazon Flex to deliver packages or return undelivered packages back to a designated location.

When individuals are given the green light to become a contractor, they can choose the delivery blocks -- that are a maximum of four hours -- in which they want to work, during which individuals are required to collect packages from pick-up points in Sydney and Melbourne before delivering them to customers.

While it is unclear of exactly how much individual contractors could potentially earn or whether Amazon will take a share of those earnings, the e-commerce giant assured that delivery partner rates are "competitive".

"Our delivery partners are paid per delivery block rather than per hour and block rates vary depending on a range of different factors, including time of day and day of the week. The delivery partner knows the estimated duration and payment for each block before they accept it on the Amazon Flex app," an Amazon spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that while there are no immediate plans to expand Amazon Flex to other cities in the country, the company spokesperson said it would "continue to evaluate the program".

See: Foodora rider deemed employee in unfair dismissal case     

The launch of Amazon Flex in Australia is in addition to existing operations in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, India, Singapore, and Japan.

The launch of Amazon Flex builds on Amazon's attempt to grow its delivery network, Fuller said.

"We are always looking at new ways to deliver convenience to customers. 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 times and respond to peaks in demand," he said.

Last November, the online retailer launched Hub in Australia to give local customers more control and flexibility over how their purchases from Amazon.com.au are delivered to them.

As part of Hub, customers can choose to pick-up their parcels from two types of pick-up points: Locker and Counter.

Amazon Hub worldwide director Patrick Supanc told ZDNet at the time the decision to launch Hub in Australia comes off the back of customers demanding for more control of when and where their package is delivered.

"People live busy lives, they might live in a high-rise apartment building where door step delivery is challenging, they may be travelling, they may sometimes not want their spouses to see the package that is arriving," he said.

"So, listening to these customers, we want to create alternatives for them to still receive their deliveries in a reliable, fast way but to a location other than their home."

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