When word got out about Amazon Flex, it wasn't clear exactly how it worked. Was it a pick-it-up-yourself service? Not really, as it turns out. The online retailer has finally taken the wraps off of Flex, and it's ultimately an Uber-like service that has on-demand contractors delivering your Prime Now orders. Like with ridesharing, couriers have to bring their own car and install an app on their phone that notifies them of gigs -- the difference, of course, is that they're transporting packages instead of people. Recruits make between $18 to $25 per hour, and they can work as much as they want.
The service is only available in Seattle right now, but it should expand to several more areas (including Austin, Chicago, Manhattan and Portland) in the future. It may also begin covering less-than-urgent packages, too, which suggests that Amazon sees this as a more than just a way to make its high-speed shipping dreams a reality. In the future, Flex could help Amazon cope with crushing holiday demand and other situations where conventional services aren't up to the job. The question is whether or not it'll continue as-is for very long. There's currently a push to treat on-demand workers like employees, which could require that Amazon pay benefits, allow unions and otherwise shell out a lot more than it was expecting.