Amazon Looks to Use More Contractors for Grocery Delivery


·         Move may help e-commerce giant control cost of hourly workers

·         Program could help company respond quicker to demand spikes


By Spencer Soper, Bloomberg 

September 14, 2020 Inc. is experimenting with a new program that pays independent contractors to fetch groceries from shelves in Whole Foods stores and deliver them in their own vehicles.


The move may reduce the online retail giant’s reliance on employees who are eligible for medical insurance, sick pay and other benefits.


Amazon is encouraging Flex drivers -- contractors who make deliveries in their own cars -- to try the new program. These people currently drive groceries to customers’ homes, while the products are gathered and bagged in stores by Amazon employees earning at least $15 an hour. The test will require Flex drivers to do the picking and packing, too, according to correspondence reviewed by Bloomberg.


If the program catches on, it could help Amazon control costs by limiting the number of employees who are eligible for benefits. It also gives the company flexibility to adjust to spikes in demand since it can summon more Flex drivers for individual jobs quicker than it can hire and train new employees.


Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment. On a website describing the new Shop and Deliver program, the company said it will...