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Amazon's mission: Getting a 'key' to your apartment building

Amazon's mission: Getting a 'key' to your apartment building

NEW YORK — Amazon is tired of ringing doorbells.The online shopping giant is pushing landlords around the country — sometimes with financial incentives — to give its drivers the ability to unlock apartment-building doors themselves with a mobile device.The service, dubbed Key for Business, is pitched as a way to cut down on stolen packages by making it easy to leave them in lobbies and not outside. Amazon benefits because it enables delivery workers to make their rounds faster. And fewer stolen packages reduce costs and could give Amazon an edge over competitors.Those who have installed the device say it reduces the constant buzzing by delivery people and is a safer alternative to giving out codes to scores of delivery people.But the Amazon program, first announced in 2018, may stir security and privacy concerns as it gains traction. The company said that it does background checks on delivery people and that they can unlock doors only when they have a package in hand to scan. But tenants may not know that Amazon drivers have access to their building’s front doors, since Amazon leaves it up to the building to notify them.Ashkan Soltani, a privacy researcher who was a senior tech advisor to former President Barack Obama, said that any device connected to the internet could be hacked, including the Amazon one, and bad actors could try to unlock the doors.“You’re essentially introducing a foreign internet-connected device into an otherwise internal network,” said Soltani, who was also a former chief technologist at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.Amazon didn’t respond to questions about potential hacking.The company has already installed the device in thousands of U.S. apartment buildings but declined to give a specific number. It sometimes leaves a clue, placing a round sticker with the Amazon smile logo on buzzers where the device has been installed. On one New York City street, the sticker was on three of 11 buildings. In another neighborhood, two of seven buildings had the sticker.Amazon salespeople have been fanning out to cities across the country to knock on doors, make cold calls or approach building managers on the street to urge them to install the device. The company has even partnered with local locksmiths to push it on building managers while they fix locks. Amazon installs the device for free and sometimes throws in a $100 Amazon gift card to whoever lets them in.Soltani said he learned about Key for Business when he was approached by two Amazon salespeople in April who wanted access to the building where he lives in Oakland, California. Building management declined, and no device was installed.Amazon had better luck with Kenton Girard. A Chicago landlord, Girard agreed to have the device installed in four of his buildings as a way to reduce package theft, which was getting so bad that he was considering building a package drop box outside.“I would have paid to have it done,” Girard said of the Amazon device.Currently, only the U.S. Postal Service has a way to enter apartment buildings in order to get to mailboxes. UPS says it has tested a way for its workers to enter buildings without buzzing tenants, teaming up with a smart-lock company in 2018. But that test ended, and UPS declined to say why. The company says customers can instead have their packages delivered to nearby grocery stores, dry cleaners or florists if they’re not home.FedEx declined to comment for this story.Amazon has wanted to walk through people’s front doors for years. In 2017, it launched a way for shoppers to let delivery people come in their home when they’re not there and leave packages in the foyer. Walmart did the same shortly after, but its delivery people also stocked the fridge with groceries. Amazon and Walmart don’t say how many people are using those services, but both have expanded them to more cities recently.In 2018, Amazon set its sights on apartment buildings, launching Key for Business and signing up big landlords to install the device in their developments. But the push seems to have accelerated in the last year or so, with Amazon deploying salespeople nationwide. Recent job postings in Miami and San Antonio say Amazon salespeople can make $3,000 to $11,000 a month in bonuses and commissions. Amazon won’t say how much it’s spending on the effort.Not all Amazon packages can get through front doors. The company delivers about 60% of its own packages itself, according to shopping data firm Rakuten Intelligence; the rest come through other delivery companies that can’t let themselves in.Philip T. Evers, a logistics professor at University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, said Amazon’s desire to get the device into as many buildings as possible may be a way to keep competitors out.“The landlord may say, ‘You know, I’ll do this for one company, but maybe we don’t want it for every delivery company that’s out there,’ ” he said. He added that Amazon could find other uses for the service, like having delivery people pick up returns left in the lobby instead of making shoppers schlep to the post office. Amazon declined to share any future plans.Jason Goldberg, chief commerce strategy officer at marketing company Publicis Communications, said the device could save Amazon money, since workers can drop off more packages during a shift and may have to offer fewer refunds to those whose packages were stolen.He heard about the program in December, when a locksmith replacing the buzzer system at his Chicago condo building offered to install Amazon Key for Business for free. Goldberg, who helps manage the building, later allowed Amazon salespeople — dangling a $100 Amazon gift card — to install the device.“They give it away for free because it benefits Amazon more than us,” Goldberg said.

Amazon to end testing for COVID-19 at warehouses this month

Amazon to end testing for COVID-19 at warehouses this month

Amazon said it will stop testing its workers for COVID-19 at its warehouses at the end of July, citing the availability of vaccines and free testingBy JOSEPH PISANI AP Retail WriterJuly 20, 2021, 6:31 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleAmazon will stop testing workers for COVID-19 at its warehouses at the end of this month, citing the availability of vaccines and free testing.The company began testing warehouse workers last year when tests were more difficult to secure. Warehouse workers, who were considered essential, packed and shipped orders throughout the pandemic.Amazon disclosed in October that nearly 20,000 workers, or about 1.4% of its total workforce, had been infected with COVID-19 by that point in 2020.Vaccines began to roll out about two months later and in May, employees who uploaded a picture of their vaccine cards to an Amazon worker app were allowed to ditch masks in the work place if they chose.U.S. cases of COVID-19 last week increased by 17,000 nationwide over a 14-day period for the first time since late fall, and an increase in death historically follows a spike in illness. Much of the worsening problem is being driven by the delta variant first identified in India, that has since hit the United Kingdom and other countries, said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.Health officials said Tuesday that the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to surge and accounts for an estimated 83% of U.S. COVID-19 cases.News that Amazon would stop testing workers was first reported by The Information.

US retail sales rose 0.6% in June, better than decline seen

US retail sales rose 0.6% in June, better than decline seen

Americans spent more last month on clothing and dining out as the economy opened up amid fewer pandemic-related restrictionsBy JOSEPH PISANI AP Retail WriterJuly 16, 2021, 4:33 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleAmericans spent more last month on clothing, electronics and dining out as the economy opened up and pandemic-related restrictions were lifted.Retail sales rose a seasonal adjusted 0.6% in June from the month before, the U.S. Commerce Department said Friday. The increase was a surprise to Wall Street analysts, who had expected sales to fall slightly last month.Spending has slowed since March, when stimulus checks sent to most Americans caused a surge in shopping. And as Americans get vaccinated, they are spending less on goods and more on hotels, haircuts and other services, which are not reflected in Friday’s report.Last month’s increase could be due to higher prices, said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist for consulting firm Capital Economics.Americans are paying more for food, gas and other goods, with prices jumping last month by the most in 13 years.The Commerce Department said Friday that sales at bars and restaurants rose 2.3%. Clothing store sales rose by 2.6%, and sales at electronic shops were up 3.3%.At auto dealerships, sales fell 2%. Automakers aren’t making as many vehicles, meaning there are fewer cars to buy, due to a worldwide shortage of chips, which are needed to power in-car screens and other technology. When auto sales are stripped from Friday’s number, retail sales are up 1.3%.The biggest drop in sales were at furniture stores, where they fell 3.6% in June. Sales also fell at home improvement stores and places that sell sporting goods.

Regulator sues Amazon to force recall of hazardous products

Regulator sues Amazon to force recall of hazardous products

Safety regulators are suing Amazon for not recalling hazardous products sold on its site, such as flammable children’s pajamas, faulty carbon monoxide detectors and hair dryers that don’t protect users from getting electrocutedBy JOSEPH PISANI AP Retail WriterJuly 15, 2021, 4:58 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleSafety regulators are suing Amazon to force it to recall hazardous products sold on its site, including flammable children’s pajamas, faulty carbon monoxide detectors and hair dryers that don’t protect users from getting electrocuted.The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which filed the complaint late Wednesday, said the online shopping giant stopped selling some of the faulty products.Amazon said in a statement that it was “unclear” why the safety commission filed a complaint when the company already removed the “vast majority” of the hazardous products, notified customers, gave refunds and asked shoppers to get rid of the products themselves.The safety commission said Amazon’s actions were “insufficient” and it wants the company to do more, including issue recalls with the commission and destroy any of the goods sent back by customers.Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut who is chair of the consumer safety committee, said in a statement that the lawsuit sends a message to Amazon and other online marketplaces: “Knowingly selling dangerous and defective products that imperil Americans will not be tolerated,” he said.The safety commission said it tested the products and found thousands of them to be hazardous.Nearly 400,000 hair dryers didn’t have a device in the plug that protects users from being electrocuted when dropped in water. And 24,000 carbon monoxide detectors didn’t work when the gas was present.The safety commission didn’t say exactly how many flammable sleepwear garments it found, but it said there were “numerous” children’s pajamas, night gowns and bathrobes that violated fabric safety standards and risked burn injuries to kids.

Amazon says its carbon footprint grew 19% last year

Amazon says its carbon footprint grew 19% last year

Amazon says that its carbon footprint grew 19% last year as it rushed to deliver a surge of online orders during the pandemicBy JOSEPH PISANI AP Retail WriterJuly 1, 2021, 12:23 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — Amazon said Wednesday that its carbon footprint grew 19% last year as it rushed to deliver a surge of online orders during the pandemic.The online shopping behemoth said activities tied to its businesses emitted 60.64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year — the equivalent of burning through 140 million barrels of oil. Amazon’s carbon footprint has risen every year since 2018, when it first disclosed its carbon footprint, something employees had pushed the company to do.The Seattle-based company said that, while its carbon footprint grew, the amount of carbon it emitted for every dollar spent on the site fell 16% in 2020.But the increase in its total carbon footprint shows how hard it is for a fast-growing company like Amazon to cut down on pollution.The company has been buying up solar energy, making its gadgets out of recycled plastic and even renamed a Seattle hockey arena after its climate-change initiative.However, Amazon depends on fuel-burning planes and trucks to ship billions of items around the world. In fact, it announced earlier this year that it would buy 11 jets to get packages to shoppers faster. Amazon’s emissions from fossil fuels soared 69% last year.There was some improvement. Because more people stayed home and ordered online during the pandemic, the emissions from shoppers’ drives to Amazon’s grocer Whole Foods and its other physical stores fell 32%, the company said.

Amazon says its carbon footprint grew 19% last year

Amazon says that its carbon footprint grew 19% last year as it rushed to deliver a surge of online orders during the pandemicBy JOSEPH PISANI AP Retail WriterJune 30, 2021, 9:16 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — Amazon said Wednesday that its carbon footprint grew 19% last year as it rushed to deliver a surge of online orders during the pandemic.The online shopping behemoth said activities tied to its businesses emitted 60.64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year — the equivalent of burning through 140 million barrels of oil. Amazon’s carbon footprint has risen every year since 2018, when it first disclosed its carbon footprint after employees pressured it to do so.The Seattle-based company said that, while its carbon footprint grew, the amount of carbon it emitted for every dollar spent on the site fell 16% in 2020.But the increase in its total carbon footprint shows how hard it is for a fast-growing company like Amazon to cut down on pollution.The company has been buying up solar energy, making its gadgets out of recycled plastic and even renamed a Seattle hockey arena after its climate-change initiative.However, Amazon depends on fuel-burning planes and trucks to ship billions of items around the world. In fact, it announced earlier this year that it would buy 11 jets to get packages to shoppers faster. Amazon’s emissions from fossil fuels soared 69% last year.There was some improvement. Because more people stayed home and ordered online during the pandemic, the emissions from shoppers’ drives to Amazon’s Whole Foods grocery stores fell 32%, the company said.

FedEx posts profit as online shopping boom continues

FedEx reported a nearly $2 billion profit in its most recent quarter, after reporting a loss the year before, helped by a surge in online shopping and the growth of its business-to-business shipping servicesBy JOSEPH PISANI AP Retail WriterJune 24, 2021, 8:56 PM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — FedEx reported a nearly $2 billion profit in its most recent quarter, after reporting a loss the year before, helped by a surge in online shopping and the growth of its business-to-business shipping services.Package delivery companies like FedEx have been in high demand during the pandemic, as more people stayed home and shopped online. At the same time, FedEx has been delivering COVID-19 vaccines.The Memphis, Tennessee-based company reported net income of $1.87 billion for the three months ending May 31, compared with a $334 million loss in the same period the year before.Adjusted earnings came to $5.01 per share, missing Wall Street expectations by 3 cents, according to Zacks Investment Research.FedEx said revenue rose 30% to $22.57 billion, beating expectations.Shares of FedEx Corp., which have more than doubled in the last year, fell 4.34% to $290.50 in after-hours trading Thursday.

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