An Amazon Flex driver loads their personal vehicle with packages outside an Amazon Fulfillment Center. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON – Customers eager to have items shipped to their homes quickly are in luck courtesy of a new Amazon service.
The Seattle-based retail giant is testing a new program that involves flex drivers picking up packages from shopping malls and delivering the items directly to the customers' homes after the merchandise is purchased on Amazon.com.
"We have been delivering 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 provided to FOX Television Stations Friday.
Amazon is currently working with shopping malls in Chandler, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada and Tysons Corner, Virginia for the program, according to a story first reported by Bloomberg.
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Amazon Flex is a program in which drivers, deemed by Amazon as independent contractors, agree to make deliveries using their personal vehicles. Flex drivers deliver groceries and other products ordered through Prime Now and Amazon Fresh, which allow customers to tip the drivers.
During the pandemic, Amazon doubled the size of its operations adding more warehouses and workers to keep up with demand from homebound consumers who felt more comfortable buying things online. But as the worst of the pandemic eased, it found itself with too much warehouse space and too many workers.
Amazon’s Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said in April that labor shortages and a lack of physical space were no longer major issues, but the company continues to face a variety of pressures including increased shipping costs.
To offset rising fuel costs and inflation, the retail giant added a 5% surcharge to fees it charges third-party sellers who use its fulfillment services. Last quarter, Amazon also hiked its annual Prime membership fee by $20, a first since 2018. Despite the fee hike, Olsavsky said millions of new Prime members enrolled during the quarter.
FOX 6 Milwaukee and the Associated Press contributed to this story. This story was reported from Washington, D.C.
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