SEATTLE: Amazon, the e-commerce giant, is calling on hundreds of entrepreneurs to join a new scheme that would enable them to lease branded Amazon vehicles and build up their own delivery businesses.

The company revealed details of its Delivery Services Partners initiative in a statement, explaining that each new partner could start their business with an investment as low as $10,000.

It claimed that successful business owners could make up to $300,000 profit a year, operating a fleet of up to 40 delivery vehicles, and that hundreds of these new businesses could end up hiring tens of thousands of drivers across the US over time.

In return for the commitment, Amazon said it would offer branded vehicles customised for delivery, branded uniforms, fuel, insurance and other benefits.

Amazon, which according to some estimates is expected to account for about half of the US e-commerce market next year, already operates a massive logistics operation with partners that include the US Postal Service (USPS), FedEx, UPS, its own network and individual drivers.

But its global shipping costs topped $21.7bn in 2017 and it has come in for criticism from President Trump, who has called on the retail giant to pay higher rates to the US Postal Service.

According to some industry observers, Amazon’s latest move would help to extend its reach into the ‘last mile’ of delivery, while reducing its reliance on traditional carriers.

Colin Sebastian, an analyst at consultancy firm Baird, told CNN that “this program signals that Amazon would like to ramp up its last-mile logistics operation more quickly”.

Another advantage, he added, is that relying less on partners like USPS and FedEx would allow Amazon to gain more control over the customer experience, provide better customer service and enable more next-day and same-day deliveries.

In addition, it would be up to its new team of partners to take on the responsibility for operating the vehicles and for hiring and managing their own team of drivers.

Sourced from Amazon, CNN; additional content by WARC staff