By Jeffrey Dastin
(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc <AMZN.O> has plans to drop off packages directly into shoppers’ homes.
The world’s largest online retailer on Wednesday announced Amazon Key, a lock and camera system that users control remotely to let delivery associates slip goods into their houses. Customers can create temporary passcodes for friends and other services professionals to enter as well.
The move, in the works for more than a year, may help Amazon capture sales from shoppers who could not make it home to receive an order in person, and did not want the package stolen from their doorstep. It also signals Amazon’s ambitions in the growing market for home security devices, where Alphabet Inc’s <GOOGL.O> Nest Labs competes.
“This is not an experiment for us,” said Peter Larsen, Amazon vice president of delivery technology. “This is a core part of the Amazon shopping experience from this point forward.”
Members of Amazon’s Prime shopping club can pay $249.99 and up for a cloud-controlled camera and lock the company offers to install. Delivery associates are told to ring a doorbell or knock when they arrive at someone’s house. If no one greets them, they press ‘unlock’ in a mobile app, and Amazon checks its systems in an instant to make sure the right associate and package are present.
The camera then streams video to the customer, who can view the delivery remotely. The associate cannot proceed with other trips until the home is again locked.
Larsen said in-home theft was “not something that happens in practice,” based on trials of Amazon Key. In some cases Amazon will reimburse customers if a problem arises, he said.
It is unclear if such protections will satisfy customers’ security concerns.
Demand for other smart lock systems has so far been small compared to connected devices like the Amazon Echo speaker, according to a survey by TECHnalysis Research.
“Consumers are unwilling to relinquish control of the door lock to a faceless, unknown delivery person,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. “It’s just creepy.”
He said the move may portend a broader home security service from Amazon, appealing to high-income Prime members.
Amazon Key is not yet integrated with home alarm systems.
Rival Wal-Mart Stores Inc <WMT.N> last month announced similar delivery plans, saying it would test placing grocery items “straight into your fridge”, in partnership with smart lock business August Home.
Amazon Key launches on Nov. 8 in 37 U.S. locations, Amazon said.
(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)