Amazon is taking its delivery ambitions to new heights: Inside the home. The ecommerce giant on Wednesday announced Amazon Key, a new service exclusive to Prime members that enables secure in-home delivery of packages via smart locks and a new Alexa device called Amazon Cloud Cam.
The Amazon Key system is sold as a kit that includes the Amazon Cloud Cam, the Amazon Key app and one of several compatible smart locks by lock manufacturers Yale and Kwikset. The kits start at $249.99 but the service is free to Prime members after that.
Once the system is set up, customers select the "in-home" delivery option when shopping on Amazon. At the time of delivery, the system verifies the correct driver is at the door, turns on the Cloud Cam home monitoring camera, unlocks the smart lock on the door, records the package being placed inside and the door being shut and locked.
Homeowners can watch the delivery happening live or review a video of it after the delivery is complete.
Each time a delivery driver requests access to a customer's home, Amazon says that it uses an encrypted authentication process to verify that the correct driver is at the right address, at the intended time.
The system can also be used to facilitate keyless home access to family and friends, as well as for service appointments. Amazon conveniently name-dropped its Home Services business as a potential service provider, as well as cleaning services from Merry Maids and dog walking from Rover. Amazon Home Services will also install the Key system for free.
An Amazon spokesperson explained that it was the company's experience in retail, hardware, cloud technology, and logistics that led to the creation of the new Amazon Key service. But more broadly, the system seems to mark the next phase of an e-commerce evolution taking place across the industry.
At this point, both Amazon and Walmart are now focusing on ways to deliver online orders inside people's homes. In Walmart's case, the experiment is limited to Silicon Valley, and groceries, and it and relies on third-party technology and delivery services to make it come together.
In its current iteration, it's unlikely that Walmart's service will appeal the average Walmart shopper that values low prices over convenience. To Walmart's credit, however, the retailer is also playing with ways to tailor smart lock-based deliveries to urban millennials. In July, Jet.com and Walmart partnered with the smart lock startup Latch to install its system in 1,000 buildings in New York City to make deliveries easier in urban settings.
But the bigger unknown is whether or not consumers will like the idea of strangers gaining access to their home when they are away. Amazon, of course, thinks the concept will catch on.
"Amazon Key gives customers peace of mind knowing their orders have been safely delivered to their homes and are waiting for them when they walk through their doors," said Peter Larsen, VP of Delivery Technology at Amazon, in a statement. "Now, Prime members can select in-home delivery and conveniently see their packages being delivered right from their mobile phones."
Amazon Key will be available on Nov. 8 in 37 cities across the US, with more locations rolling out over time, Amazon said.