Amazon expands its delivery service partner program in the US with a new incentive for current Amazon employees to start a small business owning and operating a package delivery company.
Amazon says the new incentive will fund the startup costs, up to $10,000, as well as the equivalent of three months of the former employee’s last gross salary so employees-turned-business-owners can more easily get their package delivery companies off the ground.
“We received overwhelming interest from tens of thousands of individuals who applied to be part of the Delivery Service Partner program, including many employees,” said Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations. “We’ve heard from associates that they want to participate in the program but struggled with the transition. Now we have a path for those associates with an appetite for opportunities to own their own businesses.”
Amazon says that employees that will leave their roles at Amazon to build their businesses will have consistent delivery volume from Amazon, access to the company’s delivery technology, hands-on training, and discounts on a suite of assets and services, including Amazon-branded vans customized for delivery, branded uniforms and comprehensive insurance.
Since the launch of the Delivery Service Partner program in June 2018, Amazon has enabled the creation of more than 200 new small businesses that have hired thousands of local drivers to deliver packages to Amazon customers. This year, the company plans to add hundreds more new businesses, starting with employees-turned-business-owners. Additionally, this program offering has expanded to employees in the UK and Spain.
Machines to replace jobs
While Amazon announces plans to help its employees pursue their own carreer,
the company is is rolling out machines to automate a job held by thousands of its workers: boxing up customer orders.
The world’s largest online retailer started adding technology to a handful of warehouses in recent years, which scans goods coming down a conveyor belt and envelopes them seconds later in boxes custom-built for each item, to according to Reuters.
Amazon has considered installing two machines at dozens more warehouses, removing at least 24 roles at each one, the report claims. These facilities typically employ more than 2,000 people.
That would amount to more than 1,300 cuts across 55 U.S. fulfillment centers for standard-sized inventory.
“We are piloting this new technology with the goal of increasing safety, speeding up delivery times and adding efficiency across our network,” an Amazon said in a statement. “We expect the efficiency savings will be re-invested in new services for customers, where new jobs will continue to be created.”
The new machines pack much faster than humans. They crank out 600 to 700 boxes per hour, or four to five times the rate of a human packer. The machines require one person to load customer orders, another to stock cardboard and glue and a technician to fix jams on occasion.
Including other machines known as the “SmartPac,” which the company rolled out recently to mail items in patented envelopes, Amazon’s technology suite will be able to automate a majority of its human packers.