How Amazon Keeps the Holiday Mystery

How Amazon Keeps the Holiday Mystery
Amazon's delivery options offer ways for consumers to keep holiday gifts secret.

It’s one the main problems of the holiday season — how to keep gifts secret until they are opened. And now, with the pandemic keeping more people at home, Amazon says it is offering tools to ensure “spoiler free” holidays, including by offering consumers more control over deliveries.

“This year many customers and their families are opting to stay home so the challenge of keeping those special gifts under wraps from family, friends or loved ones is going to be greater than ever,” explained John Felton, VP of Amazon Global Delivery Services. “We’re helping customers keep their orders a surprise this year and have a number of ways we’re providing them more flexibility, control and convenience over their deliveries — whether that’s ordering to an alternative pickup location, tracking their package en route to their home or consolidating their deliveries to a single day so they can plan ahead.”

Amazon Map Tracking, for instance, lets customers view the progress of their delivery on a map in real-time when the driver is close. The feature enables customers to see the remaining number of stops a driver has before their delivery arrives.

Amazon Share Tracking, meanwhile, gives customers the option to send tracking information to friends or family, so they know when to expect their package and bring their delivery indoors. Once the package ships, Amazon customers can go to Your Orders on the Amazon app, select their purchased item and tap on the Share Tracking feature on the tracking page. Once selected, customers can easily send a link to the tracking information via SMS, email or messaging apps such as WhatsApp. If the customer marks the item as a gift at checkout, once Share Tracking is sent, the recipient can also virtually "unbox" the item, send a thank you email and more—right from the Amazon app.

As well, Amazon Photo-On-Delivery provides visual delivery confirmation, showing customers that their package was delivered and where it was placed by the driver. Capturing delivery photos helps customers see that their package was safely delivered to their selected location and serves as a notification to customers who wish to minimize the time a package is left unattended. 

Amazon Estimated Delivery Window provides customers with a 2-4 hour estimated delivery. By providing a delivery window, customers are able to plan their day and, if desired, ensure they will be home to receive their delivery. 

In the U.S., Amazon’s Map Tracking, Share Tracking, Photo-On-Delivery and Estimated Delivery Window features are available for packages delivered by Amazon. Customers can access these convenient features from their Amazon app by enabling shipment notifications.

The retailer also said that Amazon Day is a free and convenient delivery option available to Prime members in the U.S. Prime members can choose to receive all of their orders on one day of the week, often in fewer boxes, reducing the number of packages and deliveries — and making it easier to protect holiday surprises from being discovered by your household. Eligible items can typically be ordered for Amazon Day delivery up to two days before a customer’s chosen day.

Customers worried about keeping packages safe or from potential weather damage like snow, heat or rain, can take advantage of Key In-Garage Delivery. This delivery option lets eligible Prime members with a myQ smart garage door opener receive packages securely inside their garage. Customers simply link their myQ app with the Key by Amazon app and then select this delivery option during checkout. Once their package is delivered, customers will receive a notification via the Key by Amazon app or the Amazon app — whichever they prefer. 

Amazon also offers customers a variety of options to have their packages delivered this holiday season including alternative delivery locations in more than 900 cities and towns across the U.S. This network of easy, convenient and contactless package pickup options — via Amazon Hub — offers customers either an attended or unattended experience in neighborhoods, cities and college campuses.

New this holiday season, customers can also enjoy the experience of hunting for great gifts and holiday deals while picking up their holiday order by selecting an Amazon 4-star or Amazon Books location as their delivery location. Prime members can also get free Same-Day shipping with no minimum purchase amount required this year.

To deliver to an Amazon physical retail store or an Amazon Hub location, customers search and select the most convenient location for them when prompted at checkout. Once their package has been delivered, customers will receive an e-mail notification with details about how and where to pick up. Customers then simply visit their selected Amazon Hub location to collect their package. Customers have between three and 15 days to pick up their order depending on the Amazon Hub or Amazon physical retail location. 

Finally, to prevent a friend, family member or loved one from spoiling their surprise, Alexa will hide the names of items that might be gifts — even if a customer asks, “Where’s my stuff?” or checks their delivery update notifications. Customers can also mark an item as a gift during checkout and Alexa will not reveal the names of the items either. Customers who want to be extra cautious of keeping those gifts under wraps or are worried they might forget to mark an item as a gift during checkout can also change their settings for item names in the Alexa app to hide all titles.