Amazon expands in-garage delivery service

Company dramatically broadens network of deliveries of dry goods, introduces in-garage deliveries in five US markets

truck on road_amazon, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) said Thursday it will dramatically expand its in-garage delivery network for members of its Prime service and will introduce in-garage delivery services in five markets for online grocery orders placed by Prime members.

The service, Key by Amazon, will be expanded to 4,000 U.S. cities, the Seattle-based e-tailing giant said. The service was launched in April 2019 in 50 U.S. markets.

Separately, the in-garage grocery delivery service will be launched in select areas of Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles, the company said. Eligible Prime members can receive deliveries of orders placed on Amazon Fresh or Whole Foods Market grocery websites.

A Key app enables Amazon drivers to gain access to customers’ homes — which include garages — their cars and business locations to deliver packages if no one is there to receive them. Amazon customers can check in-garage deliveries at checkout and monitor the process through drop-off of the parcels and the closing of the garage door.

Amazon is touting the in-garage model as convenient and, in the age of COVID-19, contactless. It is also designed to stem what is believed to be the growing incidence of porch piracy, where a package is stolen before the intended recipient can retrieve it from their porch or building. The problem is often underreported to the police, since major online retailers often return or refund items with no questions asked if the item is stolen.

Before the pandemic, an estimated 36% of Americans claimed to have been victims of porch piracy, according to a 2019 report conducted by C+R, a market research company, and reported in mid-August on the website The Crime Report. Figures for 2020 were unavailable when The Crime Report’s story was published.

In May, more Americans Googled the keywords “stolen package” and related terms than at any nonholiday period since 2004, according to a recent study by Hippo Insurance and cited in The Crime Report story.

Changes in consumer behavior wrought by the pandemic have also fueled strong growth in online grocery orders. E-grocery orders are expected to grow 40% in 2020 to nearly $38 billion, according to a survey by Coresight Research. If those numbers hold, e-commerce will have accounted for 3.5% of all U.S. food and beverage activity in 2020, according to the survey.