“I don’t think so.” That was my mother this morning upon reading that Amazon officially launched Key, its in-home delivery service. With Key, Amazon Prime members can have packages delivered directly inside their homes, rather than having boxes left out in the open on a porch or stoop.
For smart-kitchen fans, this means groceries or, one presumes, same-day meal-kit delivery, can be left in the safety inside your house. This sidesteps the issue of leaving food out in direct sunlight or other inclement weather, as well as preventing dastardly thieves who might abscond with unattended packages left outside.
That is, if you are comfortable letting complete strangers into your house while you are away.
We knew this was coming, and Amazon seems well aware of the immediate trust issues in-home delivery brings up and has gone to great lengths to put nervous nellies at ease.
First, Amazon Key only works with Amazon Key-smart locks ($199 -- $249) and Amazon Key Cloud Cameras ($149 each). Amazon sends an alert to your phone the morning of delivery with a specific time window for your package’s arrival. Amazon tells you when the delivery van arrives so you can start watching the livestream of the person entering your house to monitor their activity. (You can watch a recording if you miss the delivery.)
Drivers are instructed to knock first, just to make sure they don’t accidentally walk in on someone. If no one answers, they request the door to unlock with their handheld scanner. Amazon verifies the package and delivery address and unlocks the door. No codes are given to the driver. The door is opened just enough to slide the package inside and the delivery person asks Amazon to relock the door. After which, you receive another notification that the package has been delivered.
If you live in an apartment building or have a front gate, it’s a little more complicated, but Amazon says you can securely share any necessary main entrance code via the Amazon Key app.
Amazon is hoping you’ll use this wholistic approach to remote entry to go beyond package delivery and bring other Amazon-related services directly into your home. According to the Key site, “In the coming months, Amazon Key will provide customers with a convenient way to provide unattended access to professional service providers. This includes services from home cleaning experts Merry Maids and pet sitters and dog walkers from Rover.com, as well as over 1,200 services from Amazon Home Services.”
Amazon’s announcement follows Wal-Mart’s announced partnership with August smart locks and Deliv to offer fridge-to-fridge delivery. And while both Amazon and Wal-Mart are definitely cognizant of the security concerns, they both sense a bigger opportunity. As we wrote previously:
According to a survey conducted by NextMarket Insights on behalf of Comcast/August Home in early 2016, about 30% of online consumers said they would give temporary access to a service professional such as a house cleaner or delivery person. While that’s well below a majority, it’s probably enough to encourage Amazon and Walmart that there’s a market for this.
Amazon Key is starting off is small, with availability in only 37 cities across the U.S..
Which brings me back to my mom. I don’t imagine people her age will plunge into letting complete strangers into their home, but that reluctance seems like it might fade with successive generations (plus, she’s retired and home more often). Personally, I’m skeptical, but after reading all of the measures Amazon has put in place, I might be willing to try it. I imagine younger generations for whom riding in a stranger’s car or staying at their house will be even more open to the idea.