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Supply chain is a key factor driving a rush of new corporate deals and partnerships in the U.S. and Canada, as grocery retailers look to compete with Amazon, Walmart and each other.

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In an effort to combat “porch pirates” and spread deliveries away from peak times, Amazon and other delivery companies are constantly looking for secure ways to get your order to you. The last such announcement cam with the roll-out of their Amazon Key “smart door” service.

The latest initiative from Amazon is to partner with advanced carmakers to allow deliveries to be dropped off in the boot of your car. Prime customers in 37 U.S. cities can match up their Amazon account with an app for their connected car, notify their parking location, and Amazon will drop the goods off within a four-hour delivery window. The app will confirm when the car was actually unlocked and relocked.

Amazon Key

(picture source: www.amazon.com)

 

Technology unlocks new opportunities

The service makes use of existing technology in certain new car models, unlike the Key service which required an expensive new door entry system to be installed. Initially customers will need a compatible 2015 or newer Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle with an active OnStar account, or a 2015 or newer Volvo vehicle with an active Volvo On Call account. Support for even more vehicle makes and models will be added over time.

Grocery implications

It is hard to see this being appropriate for a full grocery delivery with no temperature protection. But the opportunity to get a secure delivery of bulky regular shopping items in your car while you are at work would be a great offer for many customers. For grocery companies, it would offer the chance to make efficient use of delivery vehicles through the day and organise delivery schedules more flexibly.

Amazon has announced that it will extend its Amazon Key service to all Amazon customers in the U.S.

The announcement comes a month after Amazon acquired high-tech home security producer Ring in a deal worth over $1 billion. The deal is Amazon's second largest acquisition.

The announcement also comes just six months after Amazon first trialled its Amazon Key service in 37 US cities and surrounding areas across the U.S.

About Amazon Key

Amazon Key allows customers to have packages delivered inside their home without having to be there, as the courier is able to enter the shoppers home through a one-off code that allows them access via the Amazon Key smart lock.

Delivery is available on tens of millions of items sold on Amazon.com and the delivery is available at no extra cost for Prime members.

Test, learn and improve

Amazon has added a new feature to Amazon Key. Users are now able get entry and exit video clips of people entering and leaving their home. Customers have the option to view motion video clips of a person entering or leaving when the door is locked or unlocked.

This provides customers with increased peace of mind and security with real-time notifications and the ability to watch the clips at their own convenience. 

"Customers have told us that they love how easy it is to use Amazon Key for keyless entry and door monitoring from anywhere with the Amazon Key App," said Rohit Shrivastava, General Manager, Amazon Key. "It's a great service for busy families; you no longer have to worry about giving keys to service providers like house cleaners, instead you can give them their own code right from your Amazon Key App. We're excited that customers across the country can now take advantage of these convenient features."

Implications

Amazon is not the first retailer to trial unattended in-home delivery through utilising smart locks. ICA in Sweden, Jet.com and Walmart in the US have all run trials. More recently we have seen Bringmeister, the online supermarket of Edeka, and Cary Services offering unattended home grocery deliveries straight to customers' fridges in Berlin.

However, the announcement is the first nationwide application of such a service, and plays very much into Amazon’s strategy of providing a great customer experience with particularly fast and reliable fulfilment.

Amazon Key aims to improve convenience in more ways than just through delivery.  Amazon has previously announced that in the future Amazon Key will provide customers with professional service scheduling with thousands of providers.

This includes integrations with some of the leading service brands, including home cleaning experts from Merry Maids to pet sitters and dog walkers from Rover.com, as well as over 1,200 services from providers across 60 professions via Amazon Home Services, which will help Amazon build out its ecosystem and aim of being the “Earth’s most customer-centric company”.

Amazon has announced a partnership with French retailer Monoprix, a subsidiary of Casino Groupe, to launch Prime Now in France.

Amazon extends global grocery reach

Prime Now customers will be able to order a range of groceries sourced by Monoprix, including private label products. It is the first French retailer to launch a partnership with Amazon.

Monoprix is one of France's largest grocery store chains. The retailer makes over three million deliveries annually to more than 150 towns and cities across France, and generated €5 billion last year.

Amazon's food retail ambition has been made clear since its acquisition of Whole Foods Market last year. The Monoprix partnership, then, can be seen as part of wider global grocery ambitions as the online retailer expands into Europe.

The service will be launched this year, available to shoppers in Paris and the surrounding region.

Partnering with Amazon and Ocado

Casino Groupe is an example of a retailer that is partnering with both Amazon and Ocado to fulfil a range of customer needs and basket sizes.

In a deal signed late last year, Ocado agreed to allow Casino to use its Smart Platform to develop online business, starting with Monoprix.fr. By partnering with Ocado, Monoprix can use the Smart Platform to deliver bigger baskets. A subsequent deal with Amazon then enables the retailer to make use of an ultra-fast delivery service that serves smaller baskets.

This is a strategy that has previously been undertaken by UK supermarket Morrisons. In 2013, Morrisons completed a deal with Ocado allowing it to use the Dordon fulfilment centre. Then, in 2016, Morrisons partnered with Amazon to sell its products through the Prime Now platform.

Jean-Charles Naouri, CEO of Casino Groupe, said "Thanks to this unique partnership between Amazon and Monoprix, Casino Group reinforces its omnichannel distribution strategy and gets even closer to its customers and their needs. This commercial partnership is a new milestone in Casino Group strategy to innovate ever more for tomorrow’s urban commerce."

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