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Amazon wants to foster small independent delivery fleets

Amazon.com said on Wednesday (June 27) it would offer incentives to entice entrepreneurs to set up their own small package-delivery businesses as part of Amazon's latest effort to solve the challenge of getting goods the last mile to customers' doorsteps. 

    At an event in Seattle, Amazon unveiled one of the dark gray Prime-logoed vans that it wants to lease to delivery businesses on what it says are attractive terms. It also said it would provide uniforms, fueling plans and insurance programs for fleet operators and even offer classes on tax, payroll and other small-business challenges. 

    The new program promises more competition for delivery companies like United Parcel Service Inc and FedEx Corp.

    Amazon says qualified entrepreneurs could start businesses with as little as $10,000, although that does not include the cost of hiring drivers. 

    Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations, said operators could see as much as $300,000 a year in profits.

    Amazon did not offer any details on the incentives or say whether it would pay per delivery, per mile driven or per month. 

    The branded vans can only be used for Amazon deliveries, an Amazon spokeswoman said.  

    Last-mile delivery is among the retail industry's biggest challenges as customers increasingly expect quick and cheap delivery of almost anything ordered online.

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