Since my return to the U.K, I have been looking for self-employment, with flexible hours, and just anything but a desk job… Which brought me to the idea of the shared economy opportunities (like Uber and Airbnb), where Amazon Logistics offer similar opportunities through their Amazon Flex multi-drop delivery drivers. Which may not seem like a “dream job” but I do literally pay lots of cash to drive aimlessly through Europe and Asia on road trips (e.g. we only arrived back from 8 days of snow in the Scottish Highlands). At the same time, when working as an Amazon Flex delivery driver, I would instead be paid roughly £400 a week (after van rental etc.) to drive around Northern Ireland. So for once in my life I was excited about a job. And this would add as well to my other incomes as an Amazon Sales Associate, and a KDP Publisher with Amazon, as my life would become ‘Peak Amazon’ as an Amazon Delivery Provider through the Amazon Flex program. However things did not turn out as expected, which I will highlight throughout this article, with the procedures and pitfalls of becoming an Amazon Delivery Driver with Amazon Flex.
Things You Need?
First off, there are a number of things you will need before taking a job an Amazon Flex Driver (other than wheels), and to even enter the warehouse/facility you will need safety boots and a hi-vis vest. Then to actually do the job, you will need a phone (Android or iOS) which the route and job will rely on given it works off an app (found here) on your own smartphone. So I personally bought myself a basic Moto G6 along with a rugged ‘armorbox’ case, although many Amazon Delivery Drivers opt for the recommended/purpose built Blackview mobiles which are not so different to normal Androids with rugged cases. Anyway, given many Amazon delivery drivers will be working 9-hour block shifts, the job also needs a lot of battery power, so it is also advised to have a second phone, and maybe a power bank. And other handy gadgets include a dashboard mount with charger, and a retractable key chain. Anyway, this is just a simple starter pack for an Amazon Delivery Driver, and to start out I spent around £200 on a phone (Moto G6), boots, jacket and other gadgets.
At its simplest, an Amazon Delivery Driver should be able to drive to the depot, take on a job, grab the allotted bunch of bags, then just go about the day delivering them. Once complete, they drop the empty bags back to the depot, and off they go home again. Making it the perfect job for a flexible stress-free work life. Unfortunately, things are not this simple for Amazon Delivery Drivers in the U.K. Or at least it’s becoming a lot less likely. As Amazon instead relies more on contractors/service providers to recruit and guarantee drivers are put out to work, every day, 6-days a week, on a full-time basis. As this is somewhat necessary to keep up with their somewhat unrealistic guarantees to customers e.g. Guaranteed Next Day Delivery. At the same time, these contractors guarantee work on a daily basis, and for those aiming to make some decent money out of these Amazon Delivery Driver jobs, they are perfect. Although you’re kind of thrown in at the deep-end. Otherwise, to go independently, you can follow the registration tutorial below.
The Service Providers
Contractors, or service providers, advertise and employ new drivers pretty much weekly, where listings are easily found through sites like Total Jobs and Indeed with daily alerts of nearby Amazon delivery driver jobs (there does seem to be a high employee turnover in the industry). They also help to get your foot through the door as delivery drivers, with training, experience, and guaranteed work for the foreseeable future. They also help to source a van, for those without one, and they will guarantee a wage if planning to save for your own van down the line. And things do move quickly following application, where I was at job ‘interviews’ and inductions in the same week as I applied, through the 2 different courier providers I contacted. As there are a number of active contractors found on these websites; including CEMPS (UK) Ltd, Pegasus Couriers, Deva Services, and DCS Recruitment Limited. Each sharing their own perks and benefits.
Before the interview (which is more of a group induction) the applicants must first confirm to have held a driving licence for more than 2 years, with no points or bans on the licence, and have no unspent criminal convictions. Then it’s almost immediately into inductions with Amazon Flex. As these are held weekly, sometimes at the warehouse (work boots and hi-vis necessary), or maybe at a hotel facility etc. Then, the gist of the day, is more or less to learn about and register with Amazon as Delivery Providers. Which takes roughly an hour or two with a lot of online forms, and signatures. As well as the drugs and alcohol test; the alcohol test being little more than a quick blow into a breathalyzer, while the drugs test is a urinalysis, meaning you have to pee in a cup in the washrooms. There will then be a further background check (through Accurate Background) before delivery drivers can go to work (filtering out potential thieves). Note, these processes have changed slightly, as Amazon now require 2 half-day inductions, with applicants following training videos and taking easy exams.
Next comes training days (normally 2 or 3) where potential drivers sit alongside one of the more experienced Amazon delivery drivers for half-day shifts. Although this will probably be a full-day given the job and processes are slowed down with all the training. Otherwise an efficient aim for a delivery driver is to deliver around 20 parcels per hour in residential areas, which sounds relatively simple, but it’s also 1 parcel per 3 minutes. So it’s a rather fast-paced job. And in these 3 minutes; you will be driving between houses, finding and scanning the parcel from the back of the van, rushing to the door for delivery, and waiting for the homeowner to answer (I’d give 20 seconds). But homeowners are not always home, so already delivery drivers will be considering alternative options even before arrival. And hopefully it will be their ‘safe place’, as you’ll otherwise be knocking on neighbours’ doors hoping to have them take the parcel for you. The neighbour then takes the parcel, and signs the card, and it’s back again to the delivery address to put the card through the door. Then you swipe the app for completion, on the doorstep, before rushing on to the next delivery. In three minutes. Then there are just so many other niggly bits of routine and protocol between.
Survival of the Fittest
It’s hard to look at these jobs as long-term given the environment, where job security is next to none, and you’re very much an insignificant cog in a ginormous global wheel. Where you technically work for yourself, as a self-employed courier, meaning Amazon has no real obligation to supply you with the jobs necessary to make a worthwhile wage. So if you’re paying for weekly van hire, you may barely be breaking even on half-day shifts. This mean, if you are underperforming, the service providers can just reduce your supply of shifts, and ultimately forcing you to quit the contract. Which may be why there’s such a high turnover in jobs in the industry. But again, there are also recorded concessions, where if you fail to follow the strict instructions of Amazon (e.g. leaving a package on the doorstep aka doorstepping) you will be penalised. Where a handful of these can see your supply contract ended. And once you’re out of Amazon, I really have no idea how to get back in. However, if Amazon delivery drivers perform professionally, and well, they can pull together a decent wage, and this can hopefully help create more secure opportunities in the future.
Similar delivery driver operations are run by a number of multi-drop providers, such as Hermes and DPD as well as other big names like Royal Mail, DHL and whatnot. But most of these will require drivers with their own vans and vehicles, or they will focus more on full-time employment. And they’re just hard to get. Then there’s Yodel (online sign-up here) who are similar enough to Amazon’s operations (and they’ll again help source vans for self-employed couriers) only they courier instead for companies like Tesco, Marks and Spencers, Argos, and just a load of well-known brands shown here. As well, Yodel are more lenient when it comes to their procedures, and they allow delivery drivers to take blocks and routes with their own vehicles. They don’t seem to have the same strict background checks etc, either, and when I applied for the local courier job, I would have the parcels delivered to my home address each morning, for delivery in my own car, and in my local area. Offering more stress-free and independent jobs to the Amazon Flex delivery drivers.