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Amazon develops solutions and features to aid contract drivers

Amazon smile light
An Amazon contract driver displays a smile light.

Amazon is rolling out technologies designed to make deliveries easier and safer for independent contractors.

The e-tail giant is focusing on several different key areas of the contract delivery driver experience:


Participants in Amazon Flex, an on-demand service that offers qualified independent contractors the chance to pick up shifts where they earn a fee per delivery using their own vehicles (plus optional customer tips),  have the option to wear Amazon-branded vests.

However, since Amazon Flex drivers use their own vehicles, customers aren’t always aware they’re delivering Amazon orders. In response, Amazon recently started testing new products to create visibility for Amazon Flex drivers with customers.

These include Amazon smile lights, small, portable lights in the shape of the iconic Amazon smile logo that can be affixed to the dash or sun visor of a vehicle, indicating to customers the vehicle is making deliveries. 

Amazon is also testing Amazon decals that stick onto the side of a vehicle, indicating the driver is delivering packages for Amazon. Early results from these two pilots show that 90% of the Flex drivers surveyed felt safer while making deliveries, and over 80% of drivers felt more identifiable by customers. 

The e-tailer will also pilot light-up branded logo vests that Amazon Flex drivers can wear while delivering packages. In addition, Amazon provides Amazon Flex drivers the option to use a driver profile feature that allows customers to view the first name and photo of the driver responsible for their package directly on their order details page. 

These features appear in the Amazon app once the driver is 10 stops or less away from making their delivery. Amazon is further developing vehicle profiles which will display the make, model, and color of the driver’s vehicle, also in the Amazon app. 

App touchpoints

Amazon contract delivery drivers, who also include members of the Amazon Delivery Service Partner (DSP) program which provides support to Amazon employees who leave their jobs to build their own contract delivery businesses, use a smartphone app to complete their routes. The app includes the number of vehicle stops and the number of packages that need to be delivered at each stop. 

Drivers previously had to engage in more than 10 interactions within the app at each location, which could amount to thousands of repetitive interactions in one day for the driver.

By leveraging machine learning and delivery history, Amazon has made changes to reduce the number of in-app interactions by 30% and is working to reach a 50% reduction by end of year. Changes that streamline the driver app experience include combining screens, such as delivery photo confirmation and overall delivery confirmation screens.

AI-based address validation

Amazon is showing drivers a photo of the ideal location to drop off a package at that location based on a past successful delivery. The e-tailer is developing a computer vision solution that will validate in real time that delivery photo s taken by drivers matches prior photos associated with successful deliveries. 

Amazon will also leverage machine learning models to rank past photos based on factors like recency and identifiable attributes (such as a flower pot or doormat), and compare this data to the photo just captured, so the driver can ensure it’s a match and proceed with the delivery.

Customer notification

Amazon is testing a new feature in the delivery app to automatically notify some customers before the driver’s arrival, reminding them to secure dogs and prepare a safe and well-lit environment for delivery. This expands on an existing feature that enables drivers to send similar push notifications manually. 

"We’re always working on new ways to improve the experience for Delivery Service Partner delivery associates and Amazon Flex delivery partners," Beryl Tomay, VP of transportation at Amazon, said in a corporate blog post. "We want to help them deliver packages quickly, efficiently, and most importantly, safely, to our customers."

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