Amazon’s New Sustainability Program May Affect Your Package Safety

Hardly a day goes by without a major company announcing that it’s undertaking some type of sustainability program. These initiatives pave the way for reduced costs for the companies, which might not be passed on to their customers through lower prices.

That said, sustainability programs may still yield cost savings for consumers. For example, such an initiative aimed at reducing packaging materials can lead to cost savings for people who live in communities that charge for waste removal based on weight or volume, as detailed in this Environmental Protection Agency publication.

Not surprisingly, since Amazon ships billions of packages each year, it is laser-focused on packaging sustainability. The outside of an Amazon package we recently received displayed "This Box Is Now Made with Less Material" and suggests reading Packaging Innovation to learn why "less material matters."

Porch packages

An even more sweeping packaging program Amazon recently initiated has garnered considerable attention. The company plans to dramatically increase—from 11% currently—the percentage of orders it fulfills that it ships in manufacturers’ original packaging rather than secondary packaging, i.e., an Amazon branded box.

Manufacturers’ Original Packaging is the Default Shipping Method

It’s important to note that when Amazon specifies that a product can be shipped in the manufacturer’s original packaging on the checkout page, you’ll be able to instead choose to have it delivered in an Amazon box—and at no additional cost. Here’s what you’ll see on the checkout page:

"Item arrives in packaging that shows what’s inside. To hide it, choose Ship in Amazon packaging." You would then click a link beneath the message to override the original packaging option.

In their haste to complete the checkout process, some Amazon customers who are concerned about privacy may forget to stipulate their preference for an Amazon box—only to feel distressed when they receive the package and realize that its contents could have been revealed to others.

What to Consider When Selecting a Shipping Method

Considering this Amazon packaging initiative, when presented with a choice of the two packaging methods, what factors should guide your decision?

Vulnerability to Package Theft

You’re undoubtedly aware of the growing incidence of mail and package theft. Online shopping—which was already dramatically increasing well before the pandemic— continues on an extraordinarily high growth trajectory because of the convenience it offers consumers. Of course, you don’t need a porch to be a victim of porch pirates since it applies not only to single-family residences but also to apartment buildings, condos, college dormitories, and any communal living environment. This article paints a disturbing picture of porch piracy.

Who is the Typical Porch Pirate?

Most porch piracy incidents appear to be crimes of opportunity, rather than the type of organized "smash-and-grab" thefts that are increasingly plaguing owners of retail brick-and-mortar stores. The typical porch pirate has a legitimate reason to be in the vicinity of the residence, notices one or more unattended packages, and makes an instantaneous decision to take advantage of the situation. Naturally, he or she will want to accomplish the misdeed as quickly as possible to minimize the risk of being interrupted by the resident.

If you’re confident that a product you order from Amazon would be of no interest to a thief, you might not mind having it shipped in the manufacturer’s original packaging. The potential downside? When faced with multiple packages that include a mix of Amazon boxes and manufacturers’ original packaging, porch pirates can decide which ones to steal more quickly than if all packages are in Amazon boxes. They would disregard any items that don’t interest them.

Why the Size of a Package Can be a Magnet for Porch Pirates

Let’s put ourselves in the mindset of a porch pirate and imagine how he or she might decide which Amazon boxes might be worth stealing. You’re probably familiar with the saying, "Good things come in small packages." One product that’s customarily presented in a small package is jewelry—which the porch pirate might seize in the belief that its contents are valuable.

Another type of product that would likely be delivered in a small package is medication. In promoting the benefits of using Amazon Pharmacy, the company highlights its use of "discreet packaging" next to the photo of medication being deposited in a small Amazon box.

We are confident that Amazon’s commitment to the privacy of medication purchases would preclude it from ever offering customers the option to have it delivered in a manufacturer’s original packaging. However, because of its small size, a porch pirate might believe it contains a high-value product, making it quite susceptible to theft—as an online search will confirm.

Of course, don’t expect a porch pirate to ignore large Amazon boxes since their size and weight might imply that they contain a computer or other high-value electronic product that can easily be sold on the Internet. And a large Amazon box may contain several smaller packages that were purchased through a single order.

Expect a Porch Pirate to Look Beyond Your Front Doorstep

Furthermore, a small package in an Amazon box wouldn’t need to be left at a front doorstep to be vulnerable to theft. Packages delivered by FedEx and UPS aren’t permitted to be placed in an official U.S. Postal Service mailbox, so they are typically left at a front doorstep. However, small Amazon packages shipped by the U.S. Postal Service can often fit in a mailbox, which could motivate the porch pirate to inspect its contents.

We previously commented that porch piracy is generally viewed as a theft of opportunity. However, it may well become an organized criminal activity by multiple perpetrators who want to take advantage of the increasing appeal of online shopping, which is evidenced by multiple packages increasingly visible on the front doorsteps of single-family homes.

Privacy Concerns

You may not want the package contents revealed to an occupant of your household, whether a family member or roommate. Or, if you live in an apartment building or condo complex, you will prefer that your neighbors and the building employees not be privy to your personal purchases.

Package Damage

Amazon has grown to become the largest delivery service in the U.S., surpassing even UPS and FedEx. Regardless of whether businesses that sell merchandise on Amazon have Amazon ship their products or they do so themselves, they must adhere to rigorous criteria for protecting products during transit to customers, as detailed in Amazon’s Packaging Certification Guidelines.

That said, since Amazon and its sellers ship billions of packages each year, it’s understandable that some will be damaged while in transit.

A Possible Connection Between Two Amazon Announcements?

We find it interesting that Amazon’s new sustainability program that greatly expands the use of manufacturers’ original packaging was reported on August 11, 2023.

Less than a week later, the company announced that it will start charging a 2% fee to a particular category of sellers who fulfill orders themselves.

The proximity of these two announcements prompted us to wonder whether Amazon experiences higher damage claims on orders fulfilled by sellers vs. those it ships. If so, the 2% fee might be aimed at reducing the costs it incurs in satisfying customers’ damage claims.

Amazon’s High-Quality Customer Service Extends to Damaged Shipments

Also, consider this scenario: An Amazon customer may receive a notification that a package was delivered, along with a photo showing that it was deposited in pristine condition. However, before the recipient can retrieve it, a porch pirate may open the package to decide whether it’s worth stealing, conclude that it isn’t, and damage the contents.

Fortunately, regardless of the cause of damage to a package, Amazon’s policy for dealing with this type of situation is very favorable to customers—but it may be a time-consuming process to resolve the issue.

Amazon Offers Shipping Options to Protect Customers from Porch Piracy

In considering the points we’ve covered, you may have concluded that there’s too great a risk to have any Amazon shipments delivered to your residence. If so, you might want to choose one of several other Amazon shipping methods: locker, counter, hub, or a nearby store from which you purchased the product.

To use a locker, the package must meet weight, dimension, and other criteria. You would also have to pick it up within three days of delivery or it will be returned to Amazon and a refund issued. Unforeseen circumstances, such as a family health emergency or severe weather event may prevent you from retrieving a package shipped to a locker in a timely manner.

When you use an Amazon locker, you will be notified by email when your package has been delivered to your specified location and provided with a code. Entering the code on the screen at the locker will trigger the opening of a secure compartment containing your package.

The eligibility requirements for using an Amazon counter also include weight, dimensions, and other criteria, although they are less restrictive than those entailed in using a locker. If your shipment qualifies, you will receive an email with a pickup code, which you will present to an employee at the counter, who will give you your package.

An iPostal1 Secure Virtual Mailbox Can Protect All Your Packages

Thus far, we’ve focused on the privacy aspects and potential for the theft of packages shipped by Amazon or its sellers. However, you probably purchase goods from other retailers, which may be delivered by FedEx, UPS, or the U.S. Postal Service. An iPostal1 secure virtual mailbox would provide the most comprehensive protection, as it would accept packages from any sender, whether a business, family member, or friend. Moreover, the package would need to meet only one criterion: acceptance for delivery by the carrier.

Instead of having packages sent to your home, you would choose one of iPostal1’s secure virtual addresses as the destination for your packages. With over 3,000 addresses currently available—and growing at a rapid pace—there’s a good chance that you’ll find one convenient to your location. If so, you would use either the iPostal1 app or your email address to receive a prompt notification upon the receipt of a package.

You could then remotely view the outside of the box to learn whether it’s a shipment you ordered, or a package you weren’t expecting from someone else. You would then retrieve the package at your convenience.

The Potential for Greater Damage Than a Crushed Amazon Package

Porch piracy has become a widely acknowledged threat in only the past several years. Another type of threat—with which we’ve had to contend for many more years—is identity theft. Some thieves will disregard packages left at your front doorstep and instead make a beeline to your mailbox.

Their goal is to steal letters that might contain your social security number, your bank or investment account information—or checks. Being the victim of identity theft can potentially drain your financial accounts, impair your ability to obtain credit, and cause you to incur considerable time and expense to remediate the problem.

According to various sources, the average value of a package stolen by porch piracy is in the $120-$160 range—which can pale when compared to the cost of dealing with identity theft. An iPostal1 digital mailbox offers the utmost protection from identity theft stemming from letters stolen from your mailbox.

So far we’ve cited the advantages of using an iPostal1 secure virtual mailbox to protect your packages and mail from porch piracy and identity theft. However, it offers additional features that can translate into both time and cost savings.

About iPostal1

Founded in 2015, iPostal1 is the largest provider of digital mailbox services, offering secure and convenient mail and package management solutions to individuals and businesses globally. With a commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction, iPostal1 has become a trusted leader in the digital mailbox industry, offering home-based businesses a real street address for their company, an upgraded business image, and privacy protection.

About USZoom

USZoom, LLC is the holding company for iPostal1, LLC, iWorkSpaceMail, LLC, and other ventures targeted at leveraging our leading SaaS offering to additional verticals. To explore our offering and learn more, visit ipostal1.com.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Andrew Yolin
Chief Marketing Officer
media@ipostal1.com
(845) 579-5770

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Includes everything in Virtual Business Address plus:

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