The instant gratification economy is still very much in vogue, and that means the demand for on-demand workers is high. Now, an entrenched tech giant and an early pioneer of the entire concept of “on-demand,” Amazon, is wading further into the gig economy.
The online retailer has for weeks been quietly operating a new program called Amazon Flex, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal, and has been testing it in its hometown of Seattle. Flex works in much the same way as other popular on-demand companies, including Uber and Postmates, do under the so-called 1099 model: Using an app platform, a network of independent contractors can sign up for flexible delivery shifts. On Amazon Flex, the company has these independent contractors collect packages from warehouses and bring them to customers’ homes in an hour or so.
According to the Journal, the program works hand in hand with Amazon’s Prime Now service, where customers who sign up for the company’s $99-a-year unlimited shipping program can get items delivered to their doorstep for a fee in an as little as an hour. Prime Now is available in 13 cities, and the company will eventually expand Amazon Flex to cover those areas in addition to Seattle, the WSJ reports.
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With Flex, Amazon has adopted the on-demand worker strategy, and it has the added advantage of a sprawling logistics infrastructure to boot. It’s worth noting that Amazon has operated its Mechanical Turk platform for a while—where workers completed micro-tasks like transcription, data entry, image identification—but now apparently, Amazon thinks on-demand work can transfer well to maximizing the company’s operations in package logistics, too.
Link to the rest at Wired and thanks to Tim for the tip.