Amazon is giving prospects a brand new approach to thank the drivers who ship their packages, simply in time for the vacations. Particularly, its “Alexa, thank my driver” program asks them to take action by way of its voice assistant Alexa.
Sadly for Amazon, the timing of this system’s launch yesterday is awkward in just a few methods. First, it follows information that Amazon is planning large layoffs, with a deal with the groups engaged on Alexa and the units used to entry it. Second, it comes the identical week as a lawsuit alleging the corporate used misleading strategies to guide shoppers to imagine that tip cash went on to drivers as additional pay, when it actually was used to subsidize their base wages.
Alexa is a part of an Amazon division that has posted main losses in recent times. The unit can also be the focus of enormous job cuts deliberate at Amazon, as reported by the New York Instances final month. That raises questions on whether or not the “thank my driver” program is partly an effort to spice up a disappointing a part of Amazon’s enterprise.
An Amazon spokesperson, requested simply that by Fortune, replied:
“No. Collectively, tens of hundreds of thousands of consumers around the globe work together with Alexa billions of occasions every week, and Alexa interactions elevated by greater than 30% within the final 12 months alone. This program is devoted to offering prospects with the chance to indicate drivers their appreciation.”
Beneath this system, in accordance with Amazon, “any time a buyer says ‘Alexa, thank my driver,’ the driving force who delivered their most up-to-date bundle might be notified of the shopper’s appreciation.” And “with every thank-you acquired from prospects, drivers can even obtain a further $5, for free of charge to the shopper. We’ll be doing this for the primary 1 million thank-you’s acquired.” It added, “the 5 drivers who obtain probably the most buyer ‘thank-you’s’ in the course of the promotional interval can even be rewarded with $10,000 and a further $10,000 to their charity of alternative.”
The spokesperson famous that prospects can thank drivers “by an Alexa-enabled system, the Alexa app and the Amazon cell buying app.” With the latter, the method can also be completed by Alexa: Clients begin by clicking the Alexa brand discovered on the backside proper nook of the buying app.
As for why the thank-you messages go particularly by Alexa, the spokesperson replied, “It’s a handy approach to share their thanks and in addition permits Amazon to effectively get the thanks over to the driving force.”
Amazon launched Alexa in 2014, and it sells hundreds of thousands of units by which prospects can entry the voice assistant, akin to its line of Echo good audio system. Promoting the usually low margin units has at all times been secondary, although, to the larger aim: Getting prospects to make use of Alexa to purchase extra issues on Amazon.
That aim has proved elusive.
In accordance with Insider, the “Worldwide Digital” unit at Amazon—which incorporates Alexa, Echo audio system, and the Prime video streaming service—had an working lack of over $3 billion within the first quarter, by far the most important amongst all enterprise items, and was on tempo for a $10 billion loss this 12 months. And the New York Instances reported final month that Echo and Alexa misplaced about $5 billion in 2018.
That unit isn’t the one one beneath scrutiny at Amazon, in fact, given widespread predictions of a recession within the U.S. CEO Andy Jassy, talking on the New York Instances DealBook summit final week, stated he and his management staff had been reviewing 50 or 60 of items and was seeing related traits the place the financial system was unsure.
“We simply felt like we would have liked to streamline our prices,” Jassy stated of the layoffs.
Extra broadly, the tech sector has seen numerous layoffs in latest months forward of the anticipated financial downturn. Final month, as an illustration, HP stated it’ll let go of 4,000 to six,000 workers over the subsequent three years, and Fb mother or father Meta stated it could lower 11,000 workers.
If the timing of the “Alexa, thank my driver” announcement falling so near the Alexa-heavy layoffs is a matter of coincidence, it may not be the one one.
Yesterday, D.C. Lawyer Normal Karl A. Racine introduced a client safety lawsuit towards Amazon. The go well with alleges the corporate used misleading strategies to guide shoppers to imagine that tip cash went on to drivers, when it actually was used to subsidize wages.
“This go well with is about offering employees the information they’re owed and telling shoppers the reality,” Racine stated in an announcement. “Amazon, one of many world’s wealthiest corporations, actually doesn’t must take ideas that belong to employees. Amazon can and may do higher.”
The Amazon spokesperson responded to Fortune: “This lawsuit includes a follow we modified three years in the past and is with out advantage—the entire buyer ideas at concern have been already paid to drivers as a part of a settlement final 12 months with the FTC.”
In November final 12 months, the Federal Commerce Fee stated it despatched Amazon Flex drivers “nearly $60 million in checks and PayPal funds to eligible drivers who had their ideas illegally taken by Amazon.”
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