Amazon is testing with Flex drivers to make template deliveries

Contractors work for Amazon Inc. Flex program loads packages into cars to deliver to customers in San Francisco.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Amazon is turning to its legions of contracted Flex drivers to deliver shopping center-based packages to retailers, allowing retailers to ship products from their own stores using the e-commerce giant’s delivery service

Amazon has in recent months informed some Flex executives that it is testing a new program in which workers pick up packages from retailers in their area and drop them off at customers’ doors, Amazon said in a statement to executives viewed by CNBC .

“Amazon Flex is testing a new type of offer with you,” the statement said. “Retail delivery offers will be able to pick up and pre-pack your pre-packaged orders directly from non-Amazon stores in participating local malls.”

The notice was sent to drivers in Las Vegas and includes only orders placed at stores in Fashion Show Mall, a 2 million-square-foot shopping center located on the Las Vegas Strip. It is unclear which stores will participate in the test.

Amazon is also testing the service in Chandler, Arizona, and Tysons Corner, Virginia, according to Bloomberg, who first reported on the program. The company also seems to be trying out the program in Friendswood, Texas, a city southeast of Houston, according to a post on a popular Reddit group for Flex executives.

Kate Kudrna, a spokeswoman for Amazon, said that a handful of “existing Amazon sellers” participate in the program, and that Flex drivers work as normal but pick up orders from retail stores, rather than Amazon delivery stations or supermarkets.

“We have been supplying third-party stores for years,” Kudrna said in a statement. “This is another way we can connect Amazon sellers with customers through convenient delivery options.”

Amazon Flex, launched in 2015, is a component of the company’s fastest growing in-house logistics arm. The program uses daily drivers to deliver packages from their own cars and operates in more than 50 cities. They earn between $ 18 and $ 25 an hour, depending on the type of shift, and are responsible for costs such as gas, tolls and car maintenance.

Amazon has made logistics a major focus as it tries to shuttle packages at higher speeds to customers’ doors. In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic lifted its follow-up and delivery operations, Amazon said it would spend $ 800 million over a three-month period to expand one-day shipping in the U.S.

Recently, the company opened its large shipping and fulfillment network to other retailers, allowing them to apply Prime benefits to ordering sites on their own sites.

Amazon is not the only company offering fast delivery to retailers. On-demand delivery providers such as DoorDash, Uber’s Postmates and Instacart have expanded beyond food and groceries to offer other products from local and national retailers.

WATCH: As Prime One Day shipping expands, here’s what it’s like to be an Amazon Flex driver

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