Amazon Hunts for New Drivers

The practice of ordering online and having goods delivered in super fast time has grown reached enormous proportions. Everything from fast food to clothes, toys, and beds can now be ordered online and delivered either the same day or the next. This has created a demand for more and more drivers, with giants like Amazon desperately recruiting.

One suggestion is that the number of advertisements for such jobs online has tripled in the past three years. Amazon reported in April 2018 that its Prime subscription service (whereby customers pay a monthly premium to secure guaranteed super fast delivery) had increased to 100 million subscribers which demonstrates the popularity of fast delivery.

Whilst the demand for more drivers/couriers is good news for those seeking work in the industry, there are serious issues for both drivers and employers to consider.

Quality control

As soon as something leaves retailers it is out of their hands. Whether it is freshly cooked food or a package of printer inks it is up to the driver to make sure it reaches its destination in the appropriate time and in good condition. This has serious implications for the reputation of the retailer and the driver. Ensuring quality control has three main elements for drivers:

  • Timeliness – ensuring deliveries are completed within the required timescale
  • Safety – whatever the product it is it must arrive in the state intended with no damage to product or packaging
  • Presentation – it may only take a minute or two to complete a delivery but the way in which it is presented to the customer is all important

Nobody wants hot food they have ordered arriving cold because of delays. Similarly, people are not impressed if the packaging is damaged, marked or shabby. And nobody likes receiving something for which he or she has paid from someone who is not polite and well presented.

Poor delivery service reflects negatively upon the retailer. Consequently, retailers will be quick to respond to complaints from customers and this can result in the loss of contracts and employment for drivers and delivery companies. What this can also mean is that retailers may choose to give contracts to larger companies with good reputations and proven track records.

Responsibility and liability

The rapid growth in the delivery service industry has prompted many questions. One of the biggest is who is ultimately responsible for a late delivery or damage to goods? Is it the manufacturer/provider or the person responsible for the delivery? For peace of mind, all drivers should have adequate courier insurance. Additionally, drivers should ensure at all times that they comply with health and safety legislation as well as the law in general.

Implications of increased road traffic

It stands to reason that with increased home deliveries comes a need for more delivery vehicles which in turn increases volumes of traffic on the roads. In 2017 the Royal Automobile Club Foundation for Motoring published a study that considered this as well as other issues related to increased delivery services.

Increased road traffic means increased pollution, a major issue, particularly in capital cities. The rise of the electric vehicle and ever more fuel-efficient engines will go some way to address the problem but Government may well be forced to introduce measures to deal with the increased traffic created by the rise of delivery services.

Many deliveries are made using vans. The RAC’s study also indicated that vans were the largest type of traffic to grow and that the UK’s van fleet has been expanding at a rate of between 3% and 6% per year.

Safety must be a key factor in any delivery business and for every driver. Increased traffic is a major contributory factor in delays. As demand for delivery services increases so will traffic volume and so will journey times. Operators and drivers will be forced to address these issues and smaller operators may struggle to keep costs competitive. Increased journey times will reduce the number of viable deliveries possible in a working day which could drive delivery costs upward.

Summary

The home-delivery industry is one of the fastest growing and shows no signs of slowing. The competition will increase. Drivers may wish to seek employment with larger companies as costs rise due to increased levels of traffic and journey times increasing.

The large increases in delivery vehicles will cause increased congestion and pollution and this will undoubtedly prompt Government action, especially in large towns and cities. Restrictions and even alternative methods of delivery such as drones may be on the future agenda.

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