Amazon has started having package delivery personnel take photos of packages that have been delivered, unattended, to a customer residence to confirm to customers that the package was delivered and where it was left, according to a USA Today report and a recent post on Amazon's website.
The Photo on Delivery option is being used in Seattle, San Francisco and Northern Virginia, where contracted delivery drivers working for Amazon use a mobile device and app to record the photo and other delivery details, the USA Today story stated.
The photo may show up in the "Your Orders" section of Amazon's website when a customer logs in, and also may be viewed by customer service representatives in situations when the packages later go missing or a customer has a specific question about the photo, according to Amazon's website note.
Amazon has long been exploring different ways of deterring package theft and keeping customers informed about the details of their package delivery. For example, Amazon has worked with Ring, the smart doorbell company it just acquired last week, to enable video monitoring of deliveries, and has even looked at the idea of delivering packages to car trunks with the help of a secure license plate frame.
But perhaps the most notable offering in this regard is Amazon Key, the service that allows delivery workers to actually enter a customer's home to leave the package securely locked inside the residence. In the footsteps of Amazon Key, we have also seen Walmart partner with Latch and Deliv partner with August Home for similar solutions.
Photo on Delivery is just the latest offering in Amazon's bid for shipping dominance, but it also appears to be one of the simplest, most viable options Amazon has explored. The service relies on a mobile device and app that Amazon's contracted delivery drivers already use, according to the USA Today report, and doesn't require any additional technology or equipment — and therefore no additional expense — at the customer location.
Photo on Delivery may not go as far as something like Amazon Key in limiting the likelihood of package theft, but it does provide a degree of accountability in Amazon's delivery process and proof to the customer that the package was in fact delivered — and without the unsettling feelings some may have about allowing a delivery person inside their homes when they aren't there.
This latest capability appears to have had a relatively quiet launch, and for now, Photo on Delivery is not available in as many locations as the dozens of markets where Amazon Key can be found, although the USA today report suggests it may have been available in some locations for at least six months already.
Privacy seems to be a big concern for the e-commerce giant, and Amazon said it isn't having delivery personnel take photos in cases where the delivery address is meant to remain confidential, or is not that of the buyer's, such as when the purchase came from a gift registry or wish list. Amazon's website post also offers instructions for customers to opt out of the service.
Ultimately, Photo on Delivery could be a practice worth more promotion and expansion. It may not stop package theft, but it provides customers with other things they can never get enough of — reassurance, communication and a sense that Amazon is trying to be accountable to them.