Amazon is turning to its legions of contracted Flex drivers to deliver packages from mall-based retailers, allowing sellers to ship products from their own stores using the e-commerce giant’s delivery service
Amazon has been notifying some Flex drivers in recent months that it’s testing a new program where workers fetch packages from retailers in their area and drop them off at customers’ doorsteps, Amazon said in a notice to drivers that was viewed by CNBC.
“Amazon Flex is testing a new offer type near you,” the notice says. “Retail delivery offers will allow you to pick up and deliver pre-packaged orders directly from non-Amazon retail stores in participating local shopping centers.”
The notice was sent to drivers in Las Vegas and only includes orders placed at stores in Fashion Show Mall, a 2-million-square-foot shopping mall located on the Las Vegas Strip. It’s unclear what stores are participating in the test.
Amazon is also testing the service in Chandler, Arizona, and Tysons Corner, Virginia, according to Bloomberg, which first reported on the program. The company also appears to be trialing the program in Friendswood, Texas, a city located southeast of Houston, according to a post on a popular Reddit group for Flex drivers.
Kate Kudrna, an Amazon spokesperson, said a handful of “existing Amazon sellers” are participating in the program, and that Flex drivers operate as normal, but pick up orders from retail stores, rather than Amazon delivery stations or supermarkets.
“We have been delivering from third-party stores for years,” Kudrna said in a statement. “This is another way we are able to connect Amazon sellers with customers via convenient delivery options.”
Amazon Flex, launched in 2015, is a component of the company’s fast-growing in-house logistics arm. The program uses everyday drivers to deliver packages from their own vehicles and operates in over 50 cities. They earn between $18 and $25 an hour, depending on the type of shift, and are responsible for costs like gas, tolls and car maintenance.
Amazon has made logistics a major focus as it seeks to shuttle packages to customers’ doorsteps at faster speeds. In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic upended its fulfillment and delivery operations, Amazon said it would spend $800 million over a three-month period to expand one-day shipping in the U.S.
Recently, the company opened up its vast shipping and fulfillment network to other retailers, allowing them to apply Prime benefits to orders places on their own sites.
Amazon isn’t the only company offering fast delivery to retailers. On-demand delivery providers like DoorDash, Uber‘s Postmates and Instacart have expanded beyond food and grocery to offer other products from local and national retailers.