Amazon delivery service partners: how to apply

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These are some of the many messages that dropped in my inbox this morning as readers showed early interest in Amazon's announcement on Wednesday of its new "Delivery Service Partners" program.

Amazon said over time, it would empower hundreds of new small business owners to hire tens of thousands of delivery drivers across the US. Amazon said it will provide training, technology, discounts on fuel, insurance, leases of Amazon-branded equipment, and most importantly, a stable flow of packages. The Amazon Delivery Service Partners program is created to help independent contractors operate up to 40 vehicles delivering products to Amazon customers. Algorithms will determine which packages are sent to Amazons 75 delivery centers across the country and which packages will be delivered by UPS, FedEx, and other delivery services.

The company has been growing its fleet of delivery providers, small contractors with as few as 10 white Amazon vans.

It has a fleet of cargo planes it calls "Prime Air", announced a year ago that it was building an air cargo hub in Kentucky and pays people as much as $25 an hour to deliver packages with their cars through Amazon Flex.

The partner companies can only deliver Amazon packages from the branded vans, but they're allowed to add their own non-Prime vehicles and pick up work for other companies. Amazon's growth in the e-commerce sector has been astounding and having greater control of its delivery network is essential to its Prime business, which delivers over 5 billion packages a year globally.

Amazon has been working on ways to expand delivery capacity, from leasing its own cargo planes to experimenting with drones.

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At the moment, that step is mostly handled by one of the many third-parties the company works with, such as FedEx, United Parcel Service, the USPS and individual on-demand workers who use their personal cars as part of the "Flex" program.

Amazon has employed independent contractors in the past to handle packages, especially during busy holiday shopping periods. Last-mile delivery is among the retail industry's biggest challenges as customers increasingly expect quick and cheap delivery of nearly anything ordered online.

Amazon said it was also committing $1 million toward funding startup costs for military veterans, offering $10,000 reimbursements for qualified candidates to build their businesses. At the same time, President Donald Trump has ratcheted up the rhetoric about USPS' unprofitability, arguing that it loses money on every package tendered by Amazon.

The program brings advantages to Amazon customers, too.

"We looked at our history with small business" on the Amazon marketplace platform, Clark said, "and we said we can do the same thing in last mile and people can own a manageable size business".

More: Trump blasts Amazon for hurting the postal service.

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