Amazon Launches Flex To Rival Postmates In On-Demand, Crowdsourced Delivery

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amazon is testing an Uber-like service for deliveries.

Amazon is unveiling its program Amazon Flex, a new initiative, only for Amazon Prime members, that allows certain products to be delivered to customers within a few hours.NEW YORK — Amazon is testing an Uber-like service for delivering its one-hour Prime Now packages that will enlist people to deliver packages for Amazon with their own cars. To become a part-time driver for Amazon, you have to be at least 21-years old, have a car with a valid driver’s license, have an Android phone, and have a clean enough record to pass a background check. According to Amazon, drivers “can choose any available 2, 4, and 8 hour blocks of time to work the same day, or set availability for up to 12 hours per day for the future.

Recently, major companies including Abercrombie, Bath & Body Works, and The Gap have promised to end their practice of making employees wait until the very last minute to find out whether they’re needed to work—effectively holding workers’ lives hostage to the changing demands of corporate staffing, rather than giving out regular schedules. You can work as much or as little as you want.” Drivers pick up a customer’s package from a location nearby that is based on the radius of the driver. Amazon has been expanding its Prime Now service for members of its $99 annual Prime loyalty program, which delivers a wide range of items in one or two hours. On-call scheduling is a close cousin of the fabled “gig economy”—the pseudo-utopian idea that full-time, regular employment is a thing of the past, one that will be replaced by a new era in which everyone is a permanent freelancer with the flexibility to pursue different “gigs” as they please. The company listed nine cities where Amazon Flex will be available in the future: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, Miami, New York, and Portland.

While outright on-call scheduling of a company’s own employees is becoming more and more toxic from a PR perspective, the “gig economy” model itself, so far, is not. The Wall Street Journal today reports on Amazon’s new “Flex” program, which will create a stable of freelance delivery drivers who will use a proprietary app to work for Amazon ferrying packages to people who’ve ordered things for immediate delivery. There is not a “tremendous population of people who want to work in an on-demand fashion.” There is a tremendous population of people who want to work.

On-demand jobs, which offer companies all the benefits of employees without any of the costs of paying benefits for them, are just the best work that desperate people can find. Driving every last penny of cost out of the supply chain can push down prices, but never enough to outweigh the costs to all of the people who are trying to make a living in such a pitiless environment. The best long-term solution to this dynamic is to strengthen the government safety net to the point that getting benefits from one’s employer seems like a weird, outdated anachronism.

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