The gig economy roared into being in recent years, and now it’s here to stay. It came to fame really with the advent of Uber and Lyft. The drive-sharing companies revolutionized the taxi industry, and indeed car ownership as a whole by letting people make money driving their cars. Sure, there the gig economy existed before, but ever since things haven’t been the same.
Now it seems like almost every large company is finding a way to engage with workers who want to stay self-employed and enjoy all the freedoms that come along with working your schedule. Amazon delivery entrepreneurs are the latest big thing in the gig economy, augmenting delivery resources to meet the company’s massive customer base.
While the allure of the gig economy is promising, there’s a lot to question. So many companies are quick to tout how much they pay or the earning potential for contractors. What they don’t mention, though, are the associated costs with driving your car, the costs of insurance coverage and other benefits you have to pay out of pocket, and the uncertainty over earnings.
If you search, there’s plenty of content online analyzing things like whether driving for Uber or delivering food with GrubHub is worth it. Many times, after gas, wear and tear on vehicles, and other costs, giggers barely come out ahead.
Is it the same with Amazon? Can you make a decent amount of money with the package delivery program? Aspiring amazon delivery entrepreneurs are dying to know, so we’ve done the work to find out. Here’s everything you need to know about delivering packages for Amazon and how much money you can make doing it.
The Massive Amazon Delivery Effort
Amazon has pushed the bounds of what we expect out from e-commerce package delivery companies and customer service. We used to be okay waiting for a week or more for something to arrive in the mail. Now, we want it here in one day or less. Amazon is making fast delivery and great customer experience the norm. Everyone else is playing catchup.
But how does Amazon do it? Amazon is already one of the largest online retailers in the world. It’s got a huge fleet of vehicles and logistics experience to match. Every day thousands of delivery vans carry employees in branded uniforms who walk your package to your door sometimes hours after you’ve purchased it. Amazon’s delivery service has put the entire retail industry in America on notice. Hurry up or get left behind.
The company is known for driving a hard bargain with the postal service and other delivery companies like UPS and FedEx, demanding discounts in exchange for volume. Each year it generates billions in revenue and profit when years ago it was only a small startup.
Amazon’s known for innovation in everything it does. It’s hard to believe that the company started as a place where people could search for and buy books online. Since then, Amazon’s moved into virtually every corner of retail, manages cloud computing for millions of people and businesses, has its own production company and content outlets, and launch hardware that millions of Americans use daily.
Changing the Way Delivery’s Done
They’re also pressing forward with innovation and growth in delivery operations. Whereas Amazon used to rely heavily on partners to ship goods across U.S. highways, now you’ll see Amazon-branded trucks driving anytime you get on the freeway.
They’ve also been experimenting with drones for years. What seemed like science fiction only years ago is quickly becoming reality. Our cities could soon be buzzing with hundreds of airborne drones bringing you tennis shoes and detergent.
Until that day becomes a reality, though, Amazon still has to find a cost-effective, efficient way to get the enormous volume of packages it handles from delivery stations around the country to their final destinations. To do that, they rely on tens of thousands of independent delivery people know as Amazon delivery entrepreneurs.
Who is Delivering for Amazon in the Gig Economy?
Let us be clear, for a long time, Amazon has been hiring employees as delivery drivers to give customers the service they expect from such a great company. However, a problem always lingered. How can the company best deal with the ebbs and flows in order volume? For a company obsessed with efficiency, they shrunk at the thought of delivery vans and employees sitting idle if orders came in slowly.
That’s when Amazon spotted an opportunity. What if they offered people the opportunity to drive for Amazon when they wanted? With independent delivery, they can recruit people via a partner program, give them hands-on training and get them ready to maintain Amazon’s customer obsession on a contract basis.
The idea offered a chance of success for the company and independent deliverers. Amazon saves on the costs of sustaining an even larger workforce, and contract delivery people can work as much or little as they want. They set their schedules and respond to delivery requests when they can.
The Launch of Amazon Flex
In 2015, Amazon launched Flex that now operates in around 50 cities in the United States. Every day Amazon delivery entrepreneurs don a vest and make their way to a delivery station to pick up packages out for delivery. They supplement the already large delivery workforce Amazon employs. Amazon Flex is open for anyone with a driver’s license that’s over 21 years old and has auto insurance. They have to clear a background check and they’re off making money with Amazon!
Amazon also controls Flex vacancies to help keep the gigs lucrative. They realize that their brand carries a ton of weight, and plenty of people would be drawn to the delivery opportunity. Controlling the number of independent delivery vans or cars in an area keeps it attractive. No one wants to put out the effort to deliver one or two packages.
The company advertises that drivers make anywhere from $18-$25 an hour delivering packages. To make money, drivers have to sign up for time blocks on the Flex app that are between three and six hours at a time. When they get to their assigned fulfillment center, they get a package tally and will get paid based on the volume.
The Ups and Downs of Gig Delivery
People who want to give being an Amazon delivery entrepreneur a try should know that it’s not all roses. You’re essentially operating your own business. Amazon is now your partner, and there are going to be good days and bad days.
You’re going to have to make enough revenue to make a profit after paying for things like tolls, gas, and car maintenance. There are going to be days you are delivering a ton of packages, and some days will be slow. It can be feast or famine.
Drivers in congested areas complain that they have a hard time making money because they deal with congestion. It doesn’t matter how long it takes for you to deliver a time 3-6-hour block, you’ve got to get it done to get paid. That means the longer it takes, the more it whittles down your hourly rate.
People working in non-urban areas usually have to drive longer distances, but report being more relaxed. They can finish a shift ahead of time and juice their earnings along the way. Their shifts are more relaxed. Sometimes a driver will only get a few packages to deliver in a block, so it can be done in a matter of minutes. You’re paid for the whole block as soon regardless.
Safety can also be a concern. Not everyone is used to seen unmarked cars full of boxes parked outside their house. When the person inside jumps out wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a high visibility vest on, their guess is as good as anybody. Thankfully, as Flex grows into more and more cities and towns, Flex drivers are becoming more recognizable.
How to Pump Up Your Delivery Earnings with Amazon Flex
We’ve mentioned that people get paid to deliver packages assigned to them in blocks. It doesn’t matter if you have ten or fifty packages in the block. Deliver them all and you get paid for the entire time. The key to making decent money as an Amazon Delivery Entrepreneur is to complete your assignment as quickly as possible.
Knowing that the emphasis on fast delivery could tempt drivers to go too fast or drive carelessly, Amazon strongly emphasizes driver safety and precaution. They also operate a support team capable of responding around the clock to drivers who run into trouble.
Drivers can also earn more money by getting tips from some package deliveries. Prime Now and AmazonFresh customers can tip partner drivers based on their time and customer service. They have two days to add a tip onto a delivery, and Amazon doesn’t take a cut. They deposit 100% of the tips into your account twice a week.
Sometimes Amazon will run incentives for Flex drivers to encourage engagement and to rally support when package numbers are high. The company has set itself up for success with a network of independent drivers who can respond during the onslaught of the holidays and other high-demand delivery windows.
Strategies for Scheduling Amazon Blocks
Amazon delivery entrepreneurs are drawn to Flex because there is the promise of making good money and writing your schedule. There’s an aspect of control that fits in with some people’s career aspirations. It’s all up to you when you want to work and how hard you want to grind to make money.
To sign up for shifts, you log on to the Flex app and take a look at what available blocks are listed. In a simple process, you lock in which blocks you want to work for the week. When you sign up, you have to list general availability. It can be adjusted, but just a heads up that Amazon will occasionally assign you shifts based on your calendar openings.
You’ve got to be diligent to get the best shifts and the ones you want. All blocks are given on a first-come-first-served basis. You’ve got to almost constantly monitor openings on the app to pick up blocks when new ones come up.
Here’s What to Expect
If you’re new to Amazon Flex and want to give Amazon delivery entrepreneurs a try, the process is easy and straightforward. It’s got all the efficiency you’d expect from the company baked in. The Flex app has all the information you need to learn the gig, and there are more resources available should you need them.
After you get to your fulfillment center to pick up your packages, the Flex app will give you routes to deliver on in the order that makes the most sense. You get turn-by-turn directions, so you don’t have to constantly switch between apps to find out where to go. Every time you stop for delivery, you’ll have to scan the package and take a photo of it in its delivered location. If you have a hard time finding an address, Amazon will give you help on the phone. If that doesn’t work out, you’ll have to take them back to the center at the end of your day.
What to Avoid as a Flex Driver
Even though you’re a contractor providing Amazon service, you’re going to be held to high standards. On a basic level, you should look presentable when you arrive for a shift and as you’re delivering packages. You may be a Flex driver, but people are going to associate you with Amazon. The company will take note of how you look and what condition your car is in. Avoid dress down too much while you’re driving.
Don’t be late for shifts. If you’re late, it ripples through the fulfillment center that relies so heavily on efficiency. If you’re late, forget a shift, or are inactive on the app for 180 days, your contract may be terminated.
Additionally, stealing packages, damaging them purposefully, or having customers complain about your service can cost you’re the gig as an Amazon driver. Also, if you can’t find an address, make sure you do your best to make delivery. Failing to attempt to deliver packages can disqualify you.
Is Amazon Driver Entrepreneurship for You?
You’re not going to make it rich as an independent Amazon package delivery partner. However, it can be a great opportunity if the circumstances are right. If, for example, you need a good way to make supplemental income, then Amazon Flex can be perfect for you. If you’re a student who has an uncertain or constantly changing schedule, you can change your hours every week and still make money delivering packages.
Amazon is working hard to make sure they keep pay rates high enough for Flex drivers to stay loyal and enjoy partnering with the company. Look for them to continue innovating and pushing for ways to make package delivery smarter and easier for the tens of thousands of people who make it happen every day.
If you are looking for the freedom to control when and how much you work every day, there are more gig economy opportunities out there than ever. Amazon Flex is certainly one of the most promising because it’s backed by one of the best companies in the country. Amazon is still growing, and e-commerce isn’t going anywhere. There will always be packages to deliver, at least until the robots take over. Until then, though, if it works for you, jump at the chance to make some money driving around putting boxes on people’s doorsteps.
Knowing what you know now, do you have what it takes to be an Amazon delivery entrepreneur?