Online shopping has provided speed and comfort to millions of shoppers around the world with e-commerce growing faster than any other retail sector according to business.com. It is easy to understand why digital only retailers such as ASOS do so well especially with delivery options such as Next Day Delivery, Nominated Day Delivery, Click and Collect, the list goes on. With all these fabulous options you would think it should be really easy.
News Flash – IT’S NOT!
I often find myself on Twitter amongst hundreds of other frustrated customers complaining about paying £5.99 for Next Day Delivery and then you stay in all day waiting for it and you don’t hear the doorbell, or maybe you just missed it. People often complain how busy their lives have become, they do not have the time or money to sit around waiting for a parcel all day. If only there was a way to fix this issue…
Enter Amazon. The multi-national company run by Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world (for the next 5 minutes!) recently released their new product, Amazon Key. The product allows Amazon couriers to enter your home and put the parcel safely inside. You can also allow access to trusted people such as a friend or dog walker. Retailing at $249.99 the service is currently only available in 37 cities across the USA and only Amazon’s courier team will be able to deliver your items. The price includes the smart lock, a camera to place in your home so you can view the delivery taking place and free installation. You will also be notified though the Amazon Key app with delivery updates. The way that your door will be unlocked is by scanning the lock on your door and only once Amazon has verified that the parcel belongs to that particular home will your front door unlock.
Since Amazon shared their new service with the world people have been quite divided on it. I asked my Twitter and Instagram followers if they would trust this new service. In total 12.7% of people said they would trust it and 87.3% of people said they would not. To better understand their reasons I asked a couple of people to tell me their thoughts on the new service.
Jessica, a friend from Wales who works in technology manufacturing explained that ‘the company’s USP is all about speed and convenience so the new service is a logical step forward’. She also explained that the surveillance and constant updates means it is ‘not as simple as just letting strangers into your home’. With the likes of the popular personal assistant, Alexa, I wanted to know her thoughts regarding the ever increasing presence Amazon seems to be having in our homes. Jessica had a really interesting response;
‘Many of us give a lot of our lives to technology companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon already without really realising how much data they have on us! A physical presence is not a radical step forward. I do believe that there should be a boundary but I also think that where we are today in terms of information shared with these companies Amazon Key seems to be next logical step.’
In contrast my friend John from London who works in finance said he voted no because he found Amazon Key to be ‘too intrusive’. If you have an issue with a delivery time for a parcel ‘you can give the courier instructions of where exactly to leave it’ such as with a neighbour or in the reception area in your block of flats. He also explained that he thought there was ‘too much risk letting a stranger into your home’. John added that hacking is something we hear about in the news often, ‘who is to say your smart lock or security camera wouldn’t get hacked into?’
Will they eat all my food? (my first thought!) Steal my possessions? Sit on my couch or even, the worst of all, potentially mess up my recording schedule on my TV box? My thoughts on these concerns and more serious ones such as actual personal safety make me think of the ride-sharing app Uber. Uber is a company that has a lot more negative press than positive (which you can read about here: https://hannahroseburns.com/uber/) yet people all over the world still continue to use their services. Does our need for convenience in the 21st century out-weigh our personal safety concerns? It certainly seems to look that way.
Personally, I would be open to using Amazon Key but probably not right away. I think the idea of the smart lock is something that will be a normal part of future homes. However, people are more weary than ever of technology companies especially since the recent news of Russia’s interference with last year’s US election. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cooke gave a great reason as to the power of technology companies, such as Facebook, in an interview with NBC yesterday. He said that social media sites ‘divide [and] manipulate people’. Additionally, new research by PwC forecasted that the number of renters in London is predicted to rise to 60% by 2025. The extremely high number of renters in London and other cities around the world will likely cause issues regarding security and liability if something should go wrong.
Only time will tell if Amazon Key will be a success or failure but do I think it is certainly an exciting step into the future.