Latch, a maker of smart door devices that allow secure deliveries to be made inside multi-unit buildings, said in a blog post this week that it made its first unattended delivery in New York City.
Latch CEO and co-founder Luke Schoenfelder further told Retail Dive via e-mail that Latch’s system is now being used to make daily deliveries from a variety of online retailers — those who use shipping companies that offer Latch as a "last meter" option to ensure deliveries are made securely within buildings.
The launch of live deliveries comes a few months after Latch partnered with online retailer Jet to outfit 1,000 apartment buildings in New York City with its smart access devices.
The Jet relationship was a significant moment for Latch this summer — but it was also a big win for the Walmart-owned e-commerce platform, which gained exclusive promotional access to the buildings where the code-secure door systems were being installed. However, Schoenfelder was quick to point out that Latch has other key relationships, including several with shipping companies that now have Latch security credentials, and offer delivery through its system as an option in buildings that have Latch gear.
That means Latch has connections far beyond just Jet. This first delivery was certainly a milestone, but there will likely be many more completed before the week is done. Schoenfelder also told Retail Dive there are many more partnerships to come.
The Latch deliveries this week also mean that the company has beaten Amazon Key to market. Amazon announced that app and service last week, and it is due to become available to Prime members in 37 cities starting Nov. 8.
The rivaling services have some key differences, Schoenfelder pointed out. "Amazon Key is designed only for single family homes and thus sold directly to consumers, while the Latch system is designed to work throughout entire residential or commercial buildings and thus sold to enterprise customers, like real estate developers, property managers, architects, etc.," he said. "In addition, Amazon Key is an integration program that supports only deadbolt locks in single-family homes, whereas Latch is an entire system of smart access devices that work throughout an entire building for mortise locks, electronically-controlled doors, elevators, parking garages and deadbolts."
There is one key similarity: both Amazon Key and Latch are trying to solve a problem — package theft — which continues to haunt shipping companies, retailers and consumers. Many companies are coming up with different ideas for how to address this issue — including smart lockers and smart car trunks (Amazon has dabbled in both.) These ideas often involve having the delivery diverted in one way or another from a customer's doorstep. Amazon Key and Latch, however, seem to be onto the notion that the best way to ensure a secure delivery is to walk right through the door. Perhaps the most obvious answer is the right one.