Amazon wants to let delivery people through your front door

Everyone has had that horrible experience—Amazon says your package arrived, but when you get home, it's nowhere to be seen. 

How to fix this? Well, Amazon has tried a variety of things, like nearby lockers and drones, but nothing quite like this. Everyone has had that horrible experience—Amazon says your package arrived, but when you get home, it's nowhere to be seen. 

The ecommerce giant on Wednesday launched Amazon Key, a new system that gives people the ability to let delivery people into their homes to drop off packages.

It's reasonable for your initial reaction to such a feature to be nervous paranoia, but Amazon thinks it has developed a way to make letting strangers into your home a relatively safe proposition.

Here's how it would work: A delivery person would arrive at your humble abode. They scan a barcode on the package, which tells Amazon's system that your little bundle of retail joy is ready to be dropped off. 

This is when Amazon's home hardware comes in, featuring internet-connected cameras and locks. The system tells the camera to start recording and tells the delivery person the system is working. The delivery person tells the app they're read, and the smart lock opens. 

The delivery person then theoretically drops of the package, does not rummage through your refrigerator, and leaves. The delivery person then tells their app that the delivery is done, and the door locks again. 

The customer is the notified that the package is their home and is sent a video of the drop off.

The function isn't just for deliveries. Amazon also teased that it could be used to let in other people like cleaners.

A big part of the new feature is Amazon's Cloud Cam, an Alexa-enabled video camera that has a variety of security capabilities including live video. 

The service is only available for Amazon Prime members in certain major cities right now. To set it up, Prime members will need to purchase Amazon's $250 "Key In-Home Kit," which will include the cloud cam and smart lock.

RELATED: 7 shock-worthy facts about Amazon

7 shock-worthy facts about Amazon
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7 shock-worthy facts about Amazon
7.5 percent of Seattle's working-age population are Amazon employees

Amazon has more than 300,000 employees worldwide, and 40,000 in Seattle alone.

As a portion of the city's working-age population — roughly 528,000 — that comes out to 7.5% of the city working at Amazon.

For perspective, if the same portion of New York City's adults worked for one company, that company would have about 488,000 locals on staff.

Amazon accounts for 43% of all online sales

Amazon used to be a way to buy books online; today, it's the default buying site for just about everything, especially for people who have Amazon Prime.

An analysis by Slice Intelligence released in February found that 43% of all US online retail sales were done through Amazon in 2016.

That's up from 33% in 2015 and 25% in 2012.

1 out of every 4 US adults has Amazon Prime.

Speaking of Amazon Prime, the company now counts approximately 63 million people among its subscriber base, or about 25% of the total US adult population.

That number may underestimate the true coverage, however, since it doesn't account for multiple adults in one household all sharing the same Prime account.

Amazon ships 1.6 million packages a day

Amazon fulfillment is a beast of its own.

A report from 2013 (the latest year for which data are available) found Amazon shipped 608 million packages that year, or 1.6 million packages a day.

As of 2015, Amazon estimated its fulfillment centers were within 20 miles of 31% of the US population, and within 20 miles of 50-65% of its core, same-day-accessible market.

That's enough cardboard to span all of West Virginia

A back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals all those packages (not including padded envelopes) yield roughly 26,400 square miles of cardboard.

The total land area of West Virginia, meanwhile, is just north of 24,000 square miles.

Given the speed of Amazon's shipments, the company could blanket the whole US in cardboard in about five months.

45,000 robots roam the floors of Amazon's warehouses

To help those shipments leave the warehouses on time, Amazon relies on a growing fleet of autonomous robots that fetch packages from their shelves and bring them to human employees.

The 45,000 robots live across 20 fulfillment centers in the US. In 2016, the company increased the fleet 50% from its prior head count of 30,000.

Amazon is more valuable than all major brick-and-mortar retailers combined

The sum total of those investments in infrastructure and supply chain management have made Amazon by far the most valuable retailer in the United States.

Amazon's $356 billion valuation is so big, it's larger than Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Macy's, Kohl's, JCPenney, and Sears combined.

With the recent acquisition of Whole Foods, there are no signs the retailer has any plans of slowing down.



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