In another bid to increase its footprint in logistics, Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) on Tuesday announced Amazon Hub, a storage system for apartment communities designed to provide storage for deliveries from any sender, not just Amazon. UPS, FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service and others would all have access to the Hub to leave packages for residents who would be able to pick up the packages at their convenience.
Packages shipped to an apartment community by any vendor are stored in a locker accessible only to addressees who will receive a code by text message or email allowing them to open the locker and retrieve the package.
Amazon claims it has installed the Hub service in apartment communities across the country and that more than 500,000 residents already receive packages at the Hubs.
Amazon’s director of worldwide lockers and pickup, Patrick Supanc, said:
The Hub simplifies delivery for residents, offering quick and secure access to packages, day or night. For delivery providers, it offers a single, convenient location for package drop-off and gives property managers time and resources back to focus on other priorities.
But is the Hub also a Trojan horse that could eventually disrupt other delivery services’ business? Given that any delivery service has access to the lockers, this doesn’t seem very likely. Also, the Hub is marketed to apartment community owners and managers as a perk for residents. No Amazon Prime membership or fee is required of residents. Any fees owners and managers pay to Amazon are also likely to be small, otherwise they’d have to raise the rent to cover their costs.
The real payoff for Amazon is the data that accompanies the package. Amazon may not know or be able to find out what’s in the package, but the company does know where it comes from, which company delivered it, and, more important, how much shopping you do. All this is valuable information that residents give up for additional security for their deliveries. Is it a fair trade?