Amazon Key is a bad idea but I have some alternative ideas

A few weeks ago Amazon introduced Amazon Key a service that lets Amazon delivery personnel deliver packages into your home.  It was met with widespread and in my opinion justified criticism, and just recently a hack was found allowing the camera to be frozen and personnel back inside.  Some people are fine with the idea of letting random strangers access their homes, but the vast majority aren’t and rightly so if you ask me.  This just screams of a random idea that wasn’t thought out and was thrown out before focus groups or A/B testing was done.

The Problem

I’ll set out two scenarios to explain my point.

Scenario #1

Let’s assume the delivery person is honest.  The delivery person unlocks your door and places the package inside, but before they can close and re-lock the door an attacker who was hiding in the bushes rushes at them and gain access tot he home.  Now you’ve got a delivery person assaulted in your home, and the attacker can rob the place and take off with your stuff.  And you’ve got the added bonus of your home becoming a crime scene and the joy of all that insurance paperwork to fill out.

Scenario #2

Now let’s assume the delivery person is dishonest.  The delivery person unlocks your door and places the package inside, then looks around and see’s something they know is extremely valuable.  They decided their low wage delivery job isn’t worth it, take the valuable item and take off, maybe even doing this a few times on their route then taking off selling the items and going on the run.  Once again your home is a crime scene and the joy of all that insurance paperwork to fill out.  And now that their is a trivial hack to disable the camera, there won’t even be evidence of the crime.


A Delivery Lock Box

Offering an Amazon branded lock box to place outside your home that can be unlocked and lock by the homeowner and Amazon delivery personnel would be a much better idea.  This removes the creepiness of letting someone into your home yet still allows a relatively secure was to leave packages at the home.  It’s not perfect and determined thieves could still break into the box or just steal the whole thing and open later, but it would make it harder and therefor cut down on theft.  There could also be options to bolt the box down and have a camera mounted on top of the box with a small UPS battery backup to keep the camera running if the power cord is pulled out.

Partner With The USPS

Now let’s say you live in an apartment and can’t get a lock box, well every US Post Office I’ve ever been in has parcel lockers and around my home town they are never used, I always have to go up to the desk during office hours and have someone go into the back to get my package instead of them just using the lockers.  Amazon could partner with the USPS to use those lockers or install their own, to provide a secure place for people in apartments to have their packages delivered.

Partner With Credit Unions

This one is a little far fetched but I though I’d throw it out there.  Amazon could partner with credit unions to stall delivery lockers either inside if there is space or outside, being outside would have the added bonus of being accessible after hours.  This way Amazon could control the security and provide a more hardened camera and security suite to the locker system.  amazon is already doing something like this with Amazon Lockers but for a lot of people the lockers are to far away and inconvenient to be of use, I know the nearest one to me is about 30 miles away in the heart of a major college campus and I’ll never use it.  Putting these lockers at local credit unions would make it much more convenient for customers and credit unions would get the free advertising that comes from people stopping by to pick up packages.  And for those of you that don’t think there is a credit union near you use this Credit Union Locator and put your address in, I’ll bet you’ll find one closer than you think, I put my address in and found 23 locations less than 10 miles from my home.

Set Up A Store

FedEx and UPS both have their own stores, and honestly I don’t think that partnering with them would work out.  The reason I say this is they are already suspicious of Amazon and wouldn’t want to create more hassle just to have Amazon pull out of the deal down the line and leave them with the mess.  So Amazon could just set up their own store, not a store where they sell products but a locker store where customers could rent boxes or just pay a small fee ($1.00 – $2.00) to have packages dropped off to securely wait for pickup.

That would just be the start, it’s obvious Amazon wants to cut out FedEx and UPS altogether and this could be the beachhead they need to do just that.  By creating stores all over the country Amazon could have a ready delivery network set up to take over the entire delivery chain from warehouse to customer.  When a customer orders a product it would go from the nearest warehouse to the nearest Amazon store and from there delivery personnel would pick it up and take it to the customer, Amazon could control the entire delivery process.  Amazon is already hiring independent truck drivers to haul for them and they’ve got Prime Air as their own small (but growing) air freight business, it’s not a far jump to get to controlling the entire delivery chain from here.


Amazon Key was a bad idea and will be seen (in my opinion) as a black eye for Amazon, but they can bounce back and come up with some better product/service and people will forget all about Amazon Key, most people have forgotten about Netflix’s Qwikster debacle and the same will go for Amazon Key, the key (no pun intended) is to quickly move on and make people forget about Amazon Key.  Amazon is a big company and a major brand, but even they are prone to the occasional screw up, if they were do roll out one of the ideas I’ve laid out here I think they could put the whole thing behind them and gain new love from the public.