It’s a question that many of us have—how does Amazon get items to where they need to be so quickly? If you’ve ever seen an Amazon van or truck driving on the roadways near where you live, that’s one part of how Amazon ships items so fast. If you’re someone who likes to learn more about the logistics of how things work, below is briefly an overview of how Amazon moves items around the country so quickly.
The Basics of Prime Delivery
Prime offers some of the fastest delivery options of any retailer anywhere in the world. There is free one-day delivery on certain items, for example.
Amazon estimates there are around 15 million items with no minimum purchase required. Shoppers can filter with the “Get It Tomorrow” selection. Most items will then be received by 9 p.m. the next day when they’re eligible.
In certain cities, including Dallas, Orlando, and Phoenix, you can order until 5 p.m. and get delivery on certain items within just a few hours. In thousands of other cities around the U.S., if you place an order in the morning, it can be delivered by nine that night if you choose Prime Free Same-Day Shipping.
Prime also offers two-hour grocery delivery, and if you’re a Prime member, you can choose delivery on Amazon Day. You can choose the day that works for you, and you’ll get free delivery on the orders you choose to arrive on a designated day of the week.
With Amazon Key In-Garage Delivery, you can receive your packages and groceries securely within your garage. Your driver will get one-time verified access by scanning your package.
The Business Structure
There are certain elements of Amazon’s business structure that help them ship and then deliver orders so quickly. One is the supply chain. Amazon has a highly advanced supply chain. Their logistics are also very advanced. They have a unique algorithm for fulfilling orders, and right now, competitors can’t match the speed the company can operate at.
Part of the supply chain includes an international warehouse network. Amazon can connect customers in the U.S. with products from all over the world. With same-day shipping options, the reason Amazon can offer these is because of the strategic locations of their fulfillment centers.
Amazon chooses fulfillment centers in certain urban metropolis areas to allow them to reach as many customers as possible. Amazon doesn’t ever take a break, and the company is operational around the clock.
Amazon has a large product inventory along with a massive network of fulfillment warehouses. There are at least 110 active fulfillment centers just in the U.S. and 180 around the world. Amazon continues to expand every year.
The warehouses are as big as 100,000 square feet, if not more, and the products housed there are ready to be delivered at any time. The warehouses take in and then sort hundreds of thousands of products a day.
In order to take advantage of same-day shipping, the products have to be eligible, and you have to live in an eligible zip code.
Amazon’s general shipping is cheap and fast, mostly because it owns and operates its own delivery vehicles as well as its own warehouses. Amazon doesn’t need to pay third parties to handle their shipping and delivery. They streamline it by managing it all in-house.
The company is currently in the process of trying to expand its delivery network even more. In addition, it is looking into its own fleet of planes, as well as more electric vans and delivery drones.
The biggest competitor, as it currently stands for Amazon right now is Walmart. Walmart is competitive as far as the pricing Amazon offers, and they are starting to cultivate their own streamlined delivery service process. Walmart+ is a new subscription service where customers can order products from the store and then get them delivered on the same day. The biggest upside that Amazon currently retains over Walmart is that it has more products to choose from.
One of the biggest challenges Amazon is likely to face going forward is having enough employees to maintain its operation. There has been a lot of negative press about working for the company as of late. There was even a story about an Amazon delivery driver who says he had to eat lunch in his van, use the bathroom in water bottles, and he felt like he was always being watched.
Amazon already has a difficult time keeping pace with the demands because the labor market is facing a shortage, and that’s not likely to let up any time soon