Amazon is doing something that should have shipping carriers nervous: it's delivering its own packages in the metropolitan Boston area. Over the past 2 weeks, we've received Amazon Prime 2-day packages from drivers in unmarked white vans.
The drivers work out of a Dedham, Massachusetts location and are employed by an Amazon contractor (Staff Management / SMX).
From what we were able to piece together, Amazon has at least 2 locations for these new types of in-house deliveries in Eastern Massachusetts, including the Dedham location. Drivers told us Amazon has plans to build more centers to serve New Hampshire and Western Massachusetts.
Our shipments originated in various Amazon Fulfillment Centers, were sent to the Stoughton, MA sortation center (BOS5) where with other types of packages were sorted by zip code, and then they were sent to the Dedham location (DB02) where drivers picked them up for delivery.
While the labels give a return address of Amazon Fulfillment Services in Lexington, Kentucky, the labels also display the codes for individual FCs - for example, one displayed PHL7 (Delaware), another, EWR4 (New Jersey).
Prior to spotting the Amazon White Vans, we had received Amazon packages from USPS, UPS, and FedEx Home Service. And especially during the holidays, we'd receive packages from Laser Ship, a regional courier service.
Interestingly, we continue to receive small and lightweight packages from Amazon via USPS and UPS. Amazon orders are an embarrassment of riches with plenty to go around for now, it would seem.
The Wall Street Journal
wrote an in-depth piece last year about Amazon's plans to build an in-house delivery network. And Geekwire
wrote about this type of service back in March - reporting Amazon direct-delivery in San Francisco.
The labels on the packages that arrive directly from Amazon read AMZL_US_PREMIUM. As we previously reported
, "AMZL" on the label means it's an order that comes directly using Amazon in-house delivery.
Marc Wulfraat, president of MWPVL International
, a supply chain and logistics company, is an expert in Amazon's logistics network. He told me today that Amazon has been testing "direct-to-customer" shipping in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.
He expects to see Amazon roll out D2C shipping big time over the next year or so.
The reason - to take the cost out of shipping. But Wulfraat expects Amazon to continue using the USPS to deliver anything that can fit in a pouch bag.
all of Amazon's fulfillment centers and sortation centers. It has also compiled an as-yet-unpublished list of Prime Now hubs - including one located in Everett, Massachusetts.
Wulfraat also pointed to rumors out today that Amazon is running its own air cargo operation - see today's report in Geekwire
The ability for Amazon to deliver its own packages is bound to make its FBA service even more attractive to sellers - though there is a downside. As Amazon builds out its FCs, sellers discover that Amazon moves their inventory around the country.
One seller recently wrote to us and was told by Amazon, "The transshipment of units is a routine exercise done by our FC. We routinely evaluate the market and fulfillment center capacity to determine the best location for your inventory. In some cases, we find it necessary to assign different fulfillment centers as the destination for your inventory in order to provide a more efficient fulfillment process for your sales. This process is mainly done, for FC space and area allocation requirements, for buyer demands for your products in different parts of the USA etc."
I know I'll be checking my labels more carefully when I receive orders from Amazon to decode them. Let us know if you're seeing any signs of Amazon in-house deliveries - you'll know they're D2C (direct-to-customer) because it will include "AMZL" on the label and it won't have the name/tracking number of a shipping carrier or courier.