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Amazon is piloting a program that has its contracted Flex drivers picking up and delivering packages from malls, as first reported by Bloomberg. The program, which Bloomberg says Amazon has been running since last year, could help Amazon fulfill orders for same-day or two-day deliveries.
“This is just another way we are able to connect Amazon sellers with customers via convenient delivery options,” Amazon spokesperson Lauren Samaha said in an emailed statement to The Verge. Samaha added that only a handful of sellers are participating in the program, but didn’t specify which ones.
It’s not entirely clear where Amazon is running the test, either. Drivers who spoke to Bloomberg about the program cite picking up packages from malls located in Chandler, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Tysons Corner, Virginia.
Much like drivers for Instacart or DoorDash, Amazon’s Flex drivers use their own vehicles to deliver packages. They typically pick up packages from Amazon’s delivery stations, but there’s also the option to pick up packages from local stores, which Samaha says has been available for years. Mall deliveries will work the same way, only drivers will head to stores within local shopping centers to collect packages.
Earlier this month, Vox reported that Amazon has been quietly testing a delivery service that pays rural mom-and-pop shops to deliver packages for the company. In a way, the local businesses become sort of like the post office — packages get dropped off 360 days a year, and workers are tasked with delivering them within a 10-mile radius. Amazon previously relied on the US Postal Service and UPS for the final leg of deliveries, in which packages actually reach customers’ doorsteps, but giving local stores that job could lessen the need to involve either service.
The retail giant is looking to conquer other shipping services on third-party websites as well. In April, Amazon started letting merchants that already store goods in Amazon’s warehouse add “Buy With Prime” buttons to their websites. This lets customers reap the benefits of Prime shipping when shopping outside of Amazon, and also gives Amazon’s growing fulfillment sector even more business.