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We’re continuing our ongoing Intro to Amazon Flex series by highlighting a few quick tips that every new driver should know. For more detailed information about this service, check out our Complete Guide to Amazon Flex.
Have you ever wondered…
“How does Amazon Flex work?”
“How much do Amazon Flex drivers make?”
“What can I expect during a delivery for Amazon Prime Now?”
Whether or new or experienced with Amazon delivery jobs, this guide will help you make the most of your Flex experience.
While you probably watched a few videos during the signup process, but there are numerous other tips and tricks to making your experience successful.
This post will cover the basics of managing blocks, picking up deliveries, and delivering orders to customers. Let’s dive right in.
Managing Amazon Flex Blocks
Your welcome email makes it sound simple but there’s more to catching blocks than you’d expect.
First, you must set your availability.
The availability an Amazon Flex drivers sets will guide what reserve offers they receive. Reserve offers are blocks set aside for you prior to the next calendar week. If you decline, you may receive additional reserved offers at a later time, and it sometimes takes two or three weeks to see your first reserve offer.
In addition to your reserved blocks, you will see on-demand blocks, which appear in the app regardless of your set availability.
Block times cannot overlap so you won’t see available blocks during times you already have work. Your Distribution center (DC) will drop these blocks at different times throughout the day, and it’s your job to figure out when that occurs.
Prime Now deliveries are different, as drivers spend time outside their DC’s refreshing the app in the hopes of catching blocks. It;s more difficult to catch blocks for Prime Now as they come available sometimes less than an hour before the block begins.
Factors that increase the availability of blocks include:
- Inclement weather
- Delays at the warehouse
- Holidays and other times of high demand
When circumstances like these occur, Amazon Flex drivers can anticipate an increase in rates.
If you find that you need to forfeit a block, do so as soon as you are aware. Drivers who don’t forfeit a block right away will be penalized if they do so less than forty-five minutes prior to the block start time. If you do this frequently, you will likely be deactivated.
Picking Up Amazon Flex Deliveries
Picking up Amazon Flex deliveries is pretty easy, and the process has been pretty streamlined and user-friendly.
One hour prior to a block start time, you’ll receive a push notification that you have a scheduled block. When this notification arrives, open the app, hit “start”, and make your way to the pickup location. Navigation will then become active in your app.
Tips to remember before heading out:
- Charge your phone – The app operates from a smartphone, so it’s essential yours is working correctly
- Get a car charger – The Flex app drains phone batteries fairly quickly, so having a car charger is vital to keeping your phone online
- Get a phone mount – A good phone mount will allow you to see your phone while driving, making watching directions easy
When you arrive at your DC, activate your app for scanning by hitting the “I’ve arrived” button. This is dependent upon GPS. If you’re outside of fifteen minutes, a screen will tell you that you cannot check in yet. Just wait until you can. This is a good time to activate your mileage tracking.
For logistics, once the app is open for scanning, you’ll check in at the gate and be assigned a dock. For Prime Now, you’ll sign in on a tablet and wait for your name to be called. Each DC has different pickup procedures you’ll need to learn.
When you pull up to a dock for a logistics pickup, you will receive a regular or a same-day route. A logistics three-hour route may contain up to sixty packages, same day routes can be one package to a remote location or twenty packages close by. These routes are set by a computer and usually take less than the allotted time. There are exceptions, as the computer doesn’t factor in walking distances at apartment complexes or traffic.
For Prime Now, once your name is called you’ll be presented with a cart containing your deliveries. Prime Now is packed in paper bags, and the number of bags in a Prime Now route depends on how many stops you have and how the orders are packed.
Once you have a route, start scanning the packages into your app. The packages are your responsibility and you cannot transfer that responsibility to anyone, not even another driver.
When you’re loading your vehicle, organization is of great importance. Nothing slows you down faster than digging through thirty packages while trying to find an envelope hiding at the bottom.
I have my vehicle arranged in zones based on alphabetical order. Packages are placed in each zone based on street name. Other drivers scan the packages as fast as they can, finish the pickup, and load packages based on delivery order. Same-day routes are the easiest to organize because they have numbered stickers.
Amazon Flex deliveries are probably the most straight-forward part of the process. All the information you need to make deliveries is contained within the Flex app.
The app has numerous features that you’ll want to learn as you gain more experience with Flexing. It also has a lot of bugs and glitches. For more information you’ll want to check out the forthcoming article “All You Need to Know about the Amazon Flex App”.
Navigation is the key to making successful deliveries. You can use the in-app navigation or your favorite GPS app. GPS is always active within the Flex app if you use the in-app navigation or not.
Once you’ve reached your destination, you may need to trigger the “I’ve arrived” button by hitting the “start travel” button. Verify the address and make the delivery.
Never leave a package that you believe will not be safe from thieves or weather. If your packages are stolen frequently or damaged, you could find yourself deactivated. You will need to mark these packages as undeliverable in the Flex app and return them to the DC at the end of your route.
If a delivery is unattended, place the package where it is not easily viewed by would-be thieves. Most deliveries will take place at the front door. If there is not safe place out of view from the street, you may be able to deliver to a side or back door but only do so if it is easily accessible.
Once you have selected a delivery location, in most cases you’ll be prompted to take a picture. This picture will be included with the notification the customer receives from Amazon.
Inevitably, you will come across problems on the route.
When encountering issues, the first place you should go is support within the app. You can either request a call from support or to call the customer directly. For help locating the address or accessing a security gate, it is easiest to call the customer first.
For other issues, you’ll need to call Flex support. For non-delivery related support, you will need to email support at firstname.lastname@example.org
When your last package is delivered and finished in the app, your route will officially end. Unless you have returns, the app will close the open block and return to the original home screen. You’ll have the option to accept other blocks if you feel so inclined. Otherwise, you’re free to do as you please. Sit back, relax, and give yourself a pat on the back – you’ve finished your block.
If a customer is present, they are often surprised by seeing a strange person in a regular vehicle approaching their home. Amazon Flex is still not well known to most, and drivers don’t have official uniforms like UPS or FedEx. You may be met with an unpleasant demeanor or a loud, “May I help you?” If this occurs, simply introduce yourself as an independent contractor for Amazon delivery and usually the customers become happy to see you! Always identify yourself and wear the provided orange vest and lanyard. This is for your safety.
What did you think of our Amazon tip list for beginners? What advice would you give to new Flex drivers? Let us know by leaving your opinion below!
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.