Last month, Amazon added some new technology to complement its Delivery Service Partner (DSP) Program. The latest of those is “Fleet Edge”, new software that helps drivers navigate changing road conditions resulting in safer operations and keeping up with scheduled delivery times.
The DSP program allows entrepreneurs to run their businesses while leveraging Amazon’s technology, logistics, and operational experience. I believe the program is excellent for both parties as Amazon motivates business owners to fulfill customer needs while downstream creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. I previously wrote about Amazon’s extensive support for SMBs, you can access that piece here.
With hundreds of thousands of employees and partners on the road daily, Amazon must constantly put its best foot forward in providing software and tools to increase safety. If there’s one thing we can count on in our roadways, it changes constantly and often is not appropriately marked. Improving safety isn’t a small feat and usually takes years to roll out and test new software, but it seems Amazon is up to the task. Let’s dig into the announcements.
Amazon DSP Program
Although the Amazon DSP Program has been around for over four years, many may not understand how Amazon is partnering with business owners. In the program, Amazon provides logistics and business training while drivers run their businesses, delivering products to customers. Business owners can scale their teams and run their businesses, while Amazon offers a growing swath of operational infrastructure.
Amazon provides tools, technology, and financing to entrepreneurs to kickstart their businesses and ensure customers are still getting the coveted quick, seamless Amazon customer experience.
If we take a step back and look the economy now from a macro standpoint, there is a lot that has changed in the past couple of years. The world for the most part has seen the end of the pandemic and people and businesses are going back to work. What is fascinating to see is that many people are taking this as an entrepreneurial opportunity to start a business, enter a new trade and improve business skills.
While the DSP program has been around for a little over four years, it has covered a lot of ground and has created many business owners, downstream jobs, and tremendous economic impact in the last four years. I’ll summarize some of the incredible accomplishments below.
I don’t want to give all of the credit to the vacuum of jobs and economic opportunity that is a result of everyone returning to the “norm.” I believe Amazon understands that the more it invests in its companies and partners the more successful the program. It takes a steady investment into new technology and tools. As Amazon continues to grow the DPS program its next investment is in the safety of its drivers.
Often drivers experience changing roadway construction and a lack of proper roadway signage. These constant changes lead to stress and safety issues for drivers and delays in customer package delivery. I have been guilty of driving the highway speed limit only to realize I am in a new construction zone going double digits over the speed limit. If a roadway unexpectedly ends, it can cause safety problems with U-turns or drivers having to self-navigate in unmapped areas.
Last month, Amazon announced expanded support for DSP drivers with the launch of Fleet Edge. Fleet Edge is a new mapping and routing technology that automatically allows drivers to find safe routes around new construction sites, roads, and traffic signs. It works by constantly refreshing on-road information through the mapping software, distributing the most recent data to delivery drivers, and automatically correcting courses to avoid potential hazardous routes. Fleet Edge has a few critical components, an in-vehicle computer, street-view camera, and GPS receiver. The development and pilot of Fleet Edge have been in the works for over two years, according to Amazon, so it seems like the company took the development and testing seriously for this project.
An Amazon delivery vehicle.
Amazon did quote some interesting statistics to support this launch. One of those is that more than 33,000 new signs have been added to Amazon’s mapping system in the last few months. Also, Amazon claimed that the accuracy of GPS location has increased by 260% in test areas, increasing safety by announcing upcoming turns quicker. I like the idea of Fleet Edge. Although the technology isn’t simple, its output is.
I believe Amazon could build more on top of Fleet Edge in the coming years as it continues to roll out its fleet of electric vehicles EVs. The whole automotive industry is making a digital transformation toward advanced driving assistant systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles (AV) and I believe Fleet Edge has a place within the intelligent driving space. While Fleet Edge is subtle technology by Amazon to ensure safety for its drivers and improve driving efficiency for businesses, it could have a disruptive impact on the future of Amazon deliveries if Amazon continues to invest in the technology.
As an extension of the DSP Program, Amazon is also launching a new Road To Ownership (RTO) Program. RTO is a new 16-week training and development program that helps Amazon DSP employees grow careers and establish their own delivery business. According to Amazon, “the program provides a blended learning experience that includes facilitator-led classes, customized online learning modules, and mentor development sessions with current DSP owners.”
Driver meets with their DSP mentors as part of the Road to Ownership program.
A unique feature of the new program is at the end of the 16 weeks; candidates get the opportunity to present their business plan to Amazon. On top of that, each graduate receives a $30,000 grant to cover start-up costs and living expenses as they start their business.
There is no doubt that this program helps Amazon continue to expand its delivery driver network while fostering invested business owners into the ecosystem. It is also an excellent opportunity for those that want to build their own business. Oftentimes people who want to start a business don’t know where to start and being able to offer upskilling opportunities through the DSP network becomes a game changer. I believe this is especially true today as we see tremendous opportunities and career changes happening everywhere. Sometimes it seems as though these programs are expected to only come from the government, but the most successful programs for business growth usually come from successful businesses themselves.
I look forward to hearing some testimonials from the RTO program graduates in the future. I believe James Banks, owner of SafeSmart Shipping and an Amazon DSP, said it best, “through this program, we’re providing talented individuals across our DSP network the opportunity to upskill and reskill, enabling them to turn their career aspirations into career advancement. It’s an incredible program for emerging team members to succeed at DSP ownership,”
Since Amazon and its partners have hundreds of thousands of drivers on the road daily, the company should ensure drivers are as safe as possible by implementing new technology. After all, Amazon is a technology leader. I believe Amazon understands that as it continues to invest in SMBs and gives opportunities to upskill, it will also be successful. I believe Fleet Edge’s implementation will save thousands of drivers from hazardous situations and increase safety, which is excellent.
Although many see Amazon as a profit-producing machine running full steam ahead, there are a lot of positive takeaways we need to stop and acknowledge, like the Amazon DPS Program. I think it’s important that both sides are covered. Amazon invests heavily in its software and hardware ecosystem to keep partners safe. Hopefully, technology like Fleet Edge is just the beginning of what we will see from Amazon as it rolls out new tools and technology for DSP program partners. In the meantime, great job Amazon.
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