How Amazon Delivers

So how is Amazon able to be in so many places at once, responding to so many orders in such a short amount of time? It comes down to a number of factors that put the behemoth miles ahead of its competitors:

  1. Its size — The sheer enormity of Amazon, particularly in the US, has enabled it to offer its customers the luxuries of both convenience and choice. Amazon’s huge facilities across the country allow it to store vast stockpiles of a wide range of products, all within relatively close proximity to much of its customer base. In particular, Amazon has successfully leveraged its size to monopolize metropolitan markets with strategically located warehouses. That approach has involved moving its Prime Now fulfillment hubs closer and closer to central areas, where real estate prices far exceed its competitors’ price range.
  2. Its system — Prime Now orders are processed by one of the 44 Prime Now hubs in Amazon’s US network. Amazon has created and constantly improves upon a highly efficient delivery process that kicks into action the second your order is placed. Workers at these hubs, called “pickers,” use a handheld computer to navigate a maze of aisles in order to collect the items for packaging. The whole, seemingly random layout is in fact based on a complex algorithm intended to ensure maximum efficiency.
  3. Its increased focus on being a first-class logistics company — Non-Prime Now orders are processed and packaged at one of more than 90 facilitation centers in the US. But rather than simply handing over packages from these centers to UPS or FedEx, Amazon will, in most cases, first send them to a local “sortation” center, where they are sorted by ZIP code and delivered to local post offices. This enables them to have far greater control of the logistics process right up until the final stretch.

The Future

While Amazon’s ability to satisfy customer demands faster and more efficiently than ever certainly is impressive, it’s also far beyond the reach of all but the most massive retailers. What can companies without the tremendous resources and scale of Amazon do to achieve similar levels of efficiency in the packaging and delivery of their products to customers across the country?

The key is maintaining well-managed and carefully optimized logistics processes. Amazon’s strategic placement and organization of its warehouses belies an attention to detail that all retailers hoping to accommodate customers’ demands for speedy, low-cost delivery should seek to emulate.

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