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Amazon is testing a new service that uses gig drivers to deliver goods directly from stores at shopping malls.
The Seattle-based web giant’s so-called “Flex” drivers, who use their own cars, are now picking up packages from a handful of mall-based retail stores instead of from Amazon’s warehouses in order to speed up the time it takes to get to customers’ doorsteps, the company told The Post.
The pilot involves shopping malls in Las Vegas, Chandler, Ariz., and Tysons Corner, Va., according to Bloomberg, which first reported the initiative.
Under the program, Amazon customers are given the choice of getting an item quicker if they opt to have the merchandise shipped directly from the local mall instead of a warehouse, according to the report.
The news comes after years of anxiety over Amazon’s increasing dominance over the US retail landscape, threatening discounters like Walmart and Target and slamming sales at big-box “category killers” like Best Buy. In 2017, Amazon was blamed when Toys “R” Us went out of business in 2018.
Amazon’s new service appears to take aim at the growing number of startups and established delivery services — including giants Instacart and Doordash — that are increasingly delivering goods on behalf of an expanding base of retailers.
The e-commerce giant downplayed the report, telling The Post that it has provided delivery options for its customers from third-party stores “for years.” “This is just another way we are able to connect Amazon sellers with customers via convenient delivery options,” Amazon spokesperson Lauren Samaha said in a statement.
Merchandise purchased from mall retailers and delivered by Amazon Flex drivers says “fulfilled by Amazon,” the company said.
The Flex driver experiment diminishes Amazon’s reliance on its massive distribution centers, Bloomberg reports.
In addition to the Flex drivers pilot, Amazon recently launched a service called “Buy with Prime” that fulfills orders offered for sale on select retailers’ own websites, according to Bloomberg.
The Flex driver program launched in 2015 as Amazon began expanding its last-mile delivery service beyond the US Postal Service and UPS – both of which have been long-time partners of Amazon.