Amazon has rapidly expanded same-day and overnight delivery service in recent years, an expensive proposition for the online retailer. To control rising costs, the company has enlisted hundreds of thousands of independent drivers who use their own cars to deliver packages to consumers.
The driver initiative, dubbed Flex, is one of the ways in which Amazon has sought to reduce its reliance on third parties like UPS and the U.S. Postal Service. Launched in 2015, Amazon in recent months has made changes to the program, adopting Uber-inspired pricing strategies for paying drivers, people familiar with the matter said. The stakes are high for Amazon, which is competing with Uber and Lyft as it seeks to build its driver network. While Flex still accounts for only a fraction of Amazon deliveries, the program could one day help Amazon achieve what might be its Holy Grail: handling not only its own packages but also those of other businesses.