Amazon’s Next Delivery Destination: Your Car

After revealing that its Prime program had amassed 100 million subscribers, Amazon added a groundbreaking delivery option to its hefty list of membership benefits with the rollout of Amazon Key In-Car. Building on the combination of security and convenience offered with Amazon Key, a service that allows a courier to place packages inside customers’ front doors, Amazon Key In-Car gives authorized delivery drivers temporary access to customers’ vehicles so that orders can be deposited inside.

Like Amazon Key, Key-In-Car is designed to address the theft of packages left outside, an issue that is becoming more serious as e-Commerce industry delivery volume grows. In a survey of 146 retail executives conducted for the Retail TouchPoints Last Mile Benchmark Report, 68% of respondents said their volume of direct deliveries had increased over the past 18 months.

Amazon Key In-Car is available in the U.S. in the same 37 markets and surrounding areas as Amazon Key, and customers can select the option for same-day, two-day or standard shipping. The program covers “tens of millions” of items that weigh less than 50 pounds.


“Since launching Amazon Key last November, we’ve safely delivered everything from cameras to collectable coins inside the home,” said Peter Larsen, Amazon’s VP of Delivery Technology in a statement. “In-car delivery gives customers that same peace of mind and allows them to take the Amazon experience with them.”

An Amazon video expands on this idea, showing that deliveries can be made to vehicles parked at a vacation destination. Cars must be parked in a publicly accessible area at street level, and they must be located within a limited distance (approximately two city blocks) from a shipping address in the customer’s account.

Key In-Car is controlled from the Amazon Key App. On the day of delivery, customers are notified through the app of a four-hour window for expected delivery, and also are alerted when the package has been delivered. Customers can track exactly when their car was unlocked and relocked. For added security, delivery drivers must physically make sure the car has been relocked before they receive the location of their next delivery.

In-Car Delivery Raises Cost And Safety Issues

Amazon Key In-Car deliveries are free with Prime memberships, but there are costs involved. Users must have an active connected car service account with General Motors’ OnStaror Volvo’s On Call. More than seven million Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles starting in model year 2015 are compatible with Key In-Car. The majority of Volvo customers in the U.S. also will be eligible, although Volvo sells fewer than 85,000 vehicles annually in the U.S. Additional car makers are likely to partner with Amazon in the future.

Some observers see in-car delivery as having even greater potential than Amazon’s in-home delivery. Greg Melich, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, said in an interview with Reuters, “I‘m sure many consumers would prefer to have their car trunk opened remotely by a third party than their front door.”

However, Amazon Key In-Car received mixed reviews in a RetailWire discussion.

“Amazon will need a complimentary service of replacing broken glass, as that is what happens too frequently to cars with visible packages in them,” wrote Peter Charness, SVP Americas for TXT Retail.

“The biggest deterrent to using the service will be the requirement to have an active [connected car] account with your auto company,” observed Ben Ball, SVP of Dechert-Hampe.

“Whether consumers really take the option of in-home delivery or in-car delivery is not what is significant about this announcement,” commented Ricardo Belmar, Senior Director, Worldwide Enterprise Product Marketing for InfoVista. “What have consumers learned from this? That Amazon will continue to find new ways to deliver their packages, no matter how many options/methods it takes, in as safe a manner as possible.”

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