Amazon's One-Hour Delivery Service Is Trying Out Taxis For Super-Speedy Delivery

Waiting for packages is so last year. More and more online retailers are exploring same-day and one-hour delivery services, and the pressure for speedy delivery has Amazon experimenting with a form of transportation city dwellers are more than familiar with. According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon is using taxis for one-hour delivery in LA and San Francisco through the mobile cab-hailing app Flywheel. It's just one of the methods Amazon has been testing in the last year to develop a faster delivery system, another method being its highly anticipated drone delivery service.

As brick-and-mortar stores adopt new ways to distribute packages within the hour, it looks like online retailers like Amazon will try just about anything.

After experiencing widespread delays last Christmas season (the worst time to deliver late packages), Amazon started focusing on alternative delivery methods outside of the USPS, United Parcel Service, and FedEx. Experts say that Amazon may be currently developing a software that uses a "same-day delivery algorithm" to assess which method is fastest and cheapest at any given moment, depending on the location. One of these methods has been teaming with the Flywheel app, a cab-hailing service similar to Uber and Lyft, to make quick deliveries in LA and San Francisco.

Taxis are dispatched through mini Amazon distribution centers, where the drivers stock up their vehicles with as many as 10 packages all intended for the same zip code, according to the Journal.

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It's unclear how effective the system has been or whether the company plans to extend the taxi service into New York City, where the yellow cab is as ubiquitous as people, but anyone who's ever ridden a taxi in NYC can attest that traffic may be a big issue. Delivery to Times Square? Forget about it. Luckily, Amazon has been exploring multiple delivery methods, as have other online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores.

Amazon's Other Speedy Delivery Service (You Know the One)

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Besides taxis, Amazon has also been promising its very sci-fi-sounding drone delivery system since last year. Dubbed Prime Air, the drone system would get customers' packages to them within half an hour. That's how long it takes to get my salad for lunch. The company says that it's currently still fine-tuning the method and is waiting on the FAA's decision after asking for an exemption from the agency's rules prohibiting using drones for commercial purposes.

How Other Online Retailers Are Delivering

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Amazon's major online competitors include Google and eBay, the latter of which rolled out its eBay Now app last year that allowed customers to receive their shipments within the hour. After ordering an item, eBay "valets" (aka bike messengers) would find it at the nearest store and whiz it to you in an hour or under. However, by October, the project was pronounced dead, with eBay CEO John Donahoe explaining that same-day delivery was "not essential to our core, target consumer."

As for Google, the company offers Google Express, a same-day or overnight delivery service for items bought at participating local stores or popular retailers. It's not so much a get-it-to-you-as-fast-as-humanly-possible service as a choose-your-preferred-window service. Stores who signed on to Google Express include Target, Walgreens, Costco, Whole Foods, PetSmart, Barnes & Noble, and Nine West.

Brick-and-Mortar Stores Are Adding Pressure

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If you're not much of an online shopper, you still have the option of shopping with instant gratification. Brick-and-mortar stores have been testing similar methods to deliver goods within the hour or on the same day. Stores like Macy's are converting their shops into mini warehouses and outsourcing start-up companies like Deliv and Postmates to send their team of couriers to your door within your chosen delivery window.

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