Amazon is in advanced talks to partner with Phrame, a company whose technology could allow packages to be delivered securely to the trunk of a car as an alternative to having the item sit on a porch or in a building foyer, a person with knowledge of the potential deal told CNBC. Amazon and Phrame both declined to comment about the news to CNBC.
Phrame makes smart license plate frames that can contain a secure box to hold an extra set of car keys. That box can be unlocked via smartphone using a code that the car owner can share with a delivery driver, according to the report.
CNBC also reported Amazon is developing a smart doorbell that could be used to allow a delivery person one-time access to a customer's home to place delivered packages inside the home.
Delivering packages to a secured, smart car trunk is, perhaps surprisingly, not a new idea. DHL and Daimler tested deliveries to the trunks of smart cars last year through DHL’s Smart Ready to Drop program. Granted, this is a bit of a different approach, using technology in a smart license plate frame, and not the trunk itself.
It’s worth noting that Amazon has already been working with a company, Ring, to integrate the Echo Show with a doorbell-based smart camera that residents in a home could use for security purposes, and to see who was ringing their doorbell. It's not clear whether Ring is also involved in the new project, but considering the wide variety of Echo devices it is clear that when Amazon lands on an interesting idea, it spins it in as many different directions as possible.
Amazon's ideas for delivery alternatives are not limited license plates and doorbells either. The company earlier this year started rolling out multi-unit secure delivery lockers called Hubs for use in apartment and condo buildings. As the e-commerce giant builds out its own logistics network and looks to supports services like Amazon Fresh, it makes sense that it would consider how it might work to increase the likelihood that customers actually receive their packages once they have been delivered.
As noted, though, Amazon isn't the only one looking for alternatives to traditional delivery locations. Smart lockers have become increasingly common, as UPS has continued to expand its locker deliver program, and multiple shipping companies now deliver to locations such as neighborhood convenience stores that hold packages for local residents.