Amazon has almost perfected speedy delivery to your home. Now the company is working to make sure your packages get inside the front door, or even into your car.
The company is in advanced talks to forge a partnership with Phrame, a maker of smart license plates that allow items to be delivered to a car's trunk, according to a person with knowledge of the potential deal. Phrame's product fits around a license plate and contains a secure box that holds the keys to the car. Users unlock the box with their smartphone, and can grant access to others — such as delivery drivers — remotely.
At the same time, Amazon is developing a smart doorbell device that would give delivery drivers one-time access to a person's home to drop off items, said two people familiar with the matter. The sources asked not to be named because the discussions are confidential.
The new initiatives are part of Amazon's effort to go beyond convenience and fix problems associated with unattended delivery. As more consumers shop online and have their packages shipped to their homes, valuable items are often left unattended for hours. Web retailers are dealing with products getting damaged by bad weather as well as the rise of so-called porch pirates, who steal items from doorsteps. Amazon also has an incentive to reduce the number of lost packages, as they can be costly.
"Unattended delivery is the least desirable of last-mile fulfillment options as it leaves the package exposed to all kinds of risk," said Natalie Berg, an analyst at Planet Retail RNG. "It's not just the financial cost but also the impact that a failed delivery can have on brand reputation and customer loyalty. Nothing makes shoppers more irate than missing a delivery."
Amazon, UPS and other delivery companies don't disclose data on lost packages. But according to the smart doorbell maker August, 11 million U.S. homeowners had a package stolen in 2016, and a survey by Shorr Packaging showed 31 percent of U.S. shoppers have experienced package theft.