Will Amazon Scout Be the Future of Delivery Service?
Amazon says they are testing a new delivery method; are we surprised? After six years of little to no talk on their drones, they’re back with a smaller scale device, Amazon Scout, in an attempt to automate delivery solutions. This news makes us wonder what their true purpose is. Do they really believe Amazon Scout will be the future of delivery, or is this just a marketing ploy to appear cutting-edge? Before we get to that, it’s important to understand what the device is and its capabilities.
What is it?
Scout is a small, cooler-sized device designed to roll along sidewalks at a walking pace and deliver packages straight to consumer’s doors.
Amazon Scout is a fully-electronic delivery system developed to distribute packages to customers using autonomous technology. Scout is a small, cooler-sized device designed to roll along sidewalks at a walking pace and deliver packages straight to consumer’s doors. In late January, Amazon started testing in a suburban neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington. (Imagery courtesy of Amazon)
How it Works
According to the e-commerce giant, customers in the testing location order their packages just as they normally would. Prime members will still receive the same delivery options including fast, FREE Same-Day, One-Day and Two-Day shipping. After the order has been placed and is set out for delivery, the package will be distributed by either a trusted carrier or Amazon Scout.
For the initial testing phase, there will be six Amazon Scout devices within the neighborhood, delivering packages Monday-Friday during daylight hours. Upon testing, each device will be accompanied by an Amazon employee and autonomously follow their route. According to Amazon, each device has gone through comprehensive research and development to ensure they can safely and efficiently navigate around pets, pedestrians and anything else that comes along. However, we remain skeptical.
Why It’s Questionable
While the idea is innovative, there are a few red flags for us. First, the size. Scout is said to be the size of a small cooler, meaning it can’t fit very many packages. This means the scope of deliveries Scout is able to manage is pretty narrow. What about bulk (or last-minute Christmas eve) shoppers? What if you simply purchase two medium sized packages? It’s also petit enough to be stolen which isn’t ideal.
Another cause for concern is the electric battery. While good for the environment, electrically-powered devices need to be charged. What if the battery dies? Is your package stranded in no man’s land? How long would it take to charge? Can you only charge at the fulfillment station? Having multiple Scout devices in one location could help, but again, it doesn’t seem efficient.
Amazon Scout is said to be built for sidewalks, but is it really? What if the sidewalk is too busy? Amazon claims this new technology has gone through “extensive testing” to ensure the device can navigate streets safely, but surely everything hasn’t been accounted for. Also, what if there isn’t a sidewalk? Creating a device specifically built for sidewalks limits how it can be used. If Amazon truly wants to enhance their delivery process this device must not be the end game.
We’re also curious what happens if someone isn’t there to pick up the package. Based on the video showcasing how the device works, in order for someone to receive their package they have to take it directly from the device. How does Scout account for customers who aren’t home? Surely at that speed rolling all the way back to a fulfillment station isn’t the best option. Overall, there are far too many unknowns for us to believe Scout is the next generation innovation in delivery.
Amazon is constantly testing new delivery methods to strengthen their suite of innovative solutions, but what’s the true purpose of Amazon Scout? If we were able to pick out various issues, certainly they would too, right? That’s what leads us to believe this is just a marketing ploy to emphasize the idea they are forward-thinkers. With such a large consumer base, staying top of mind is priority. Amazon wants consumers to constantly ask, “what will Amazon do next?”
"They aren’t just innovators at tech, they are innovators at marketing too."
Releasing news on products undergoing testing solidifies their position as cutting-edge innovators. Regardless of whether or not the product is successful, to them, it’s the idea that matters. It’s the idea that grabs attention. Out of the 12 million plus products they sell, Amazon’s by far the best at marketing themselves. They aren’t just innovators at tech, they are innovators at marketing too.