Why You’ll Get Over The Ickiness of Amazon Key

SMITH BRAIN TRUST  Amazon and Walmart both have plans to let unattended delivery people into your home to drop off parcels or restock your fridge. Both companies will operate their new services in roughly the same way, with an electronic smart-lock that gives delivery personnel a one-use-only code to unlock a customer’s door and a series of internet-enabled security cameras designed to track every movement throughout the delivery process. Customers would likely pay for the smart-lock and webcam systems, with prices expected to start around $300.

"Retailers now are all competing like never before," says the Smith School’s Jie Zhang. That competition isn’t merely about price and assortment anymore. Increasingly, it’s about service. Amazon and Walmart are looking to create a service that offers consumer convenience, while making deliveries less susceptible to theft. E-commerce companies have experimented for years with various methods of keeping parcels secure, from Amazon lockers in office buildings and neighborhood stores, to car-trunk delivery.

But how will consumers overcome their jitters and give the services a try? No one wants their parcels stolen off their front porch, but giving a delivery person a virtual key to your home? In a video promoting Amazon Key, the retailer also promotes its in-home cleaning service. The linkage, says the Smith School’s Rebecca Ratner, appears aimed at relating one to the other, as if saying, “You let cleaning people into your house when you aren’t there. This is a lot like that.” But for many people, it’s not. Read more at WAMU...

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About the Expert(s)

RatnerRebecca

Rebecca Ratner is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Dean's Professor of Marketing at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. She received a Ph.D. in social psychology from Princeton University in 1999, was a visiting scholar at the Wharton School in 1996 – 1997 and a visiting scholar at the Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business in 2004. Prior to her position at Maryland, she was assistant professor and associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ratner has taught courses on marketing management, marketing research, and consumer behavior to MBA students, undergraduate students, and executives.

Jie Zhang is a Professor of Marketing and the Harvey Sanders Fellow of Retail Management at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. She received her Ph.D. in marketing from the Kellogg School of Management at NorthwesternUniversity. She was a faculty member at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan prior to joining the Smith School. Her general research interest is to apply advanced econometric and statistical models to study consumer purchase behaviors and retail strategies.

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