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Amazon Takes Ads on the Road with New Trailers

Amazon now has moving billboards on the nation’s highways to advertise its brand. Amazon told the Chicago Tribune it had acquired shipping trailers, though the company did not respond to our request for details.

We turned to an expert in Amazon’s logistics network to explore why it would make such an investment. “If this fleet consists of 53-foot trailers then I assume that they will be used to move freight from Fulfillment Centers to Sort action centers and/or from replenishment centers to Fulfillment Centers,” Marc Wulfraat told us. He is president of MWPVL International, a supply chain and logistics company. “In other words, to move freight within the Amazon network and not to the end customer.”

Amazon is known for its constant efforts to increase efficiency and lower costs. Wulfraat said acquiring its own trailers would allow Amazon to lower truckload freight costs and secure trucking capacity dedicated solely to Amazon.

And, he believes, it’s about advertising their brand.

He also said that if Amazon invests in smaller trucks that are allowed to travel in cities, “such as the brown UPS trucks we see on the streets, then this could potentially upset the use of couriers, USPS, and the National parcel carriers.”

As EcommerceBytes previously reported, unmarked white vans delivering packages to customers are becoming ubiquitous in the Boston area as the company delivers its own packages directly to customers.

As for its trailers (which do not include trucks to tow them – Amazon still uses third parties carriers), Amazon VP of North America Operations Mike Roth told the Chicago Tribune’s Blue Sky, “We pride ourselves on what we’ve built in the transportation and supply chain and fulfillment center network, and this is just another example of where we see that there is innovation to be had in an existing industry.”

As evidence of the volume Amazon is moving that would necessitate further investments in logistics, the traffic at one Fulfillment Center in New Jersey has become so snarled due to the extra 2,000 seasonal employees it had to hire that the local mayor threatened to sue Amazon unless it addressed the problem.

There may be more experiments on the way – the Wall Street Journal noted a patent application Amazon filed last year “envisioning mini-distribution centers run out of semi-trucks stocked with merchandise and stationed in parking lots and other urban areas to help speed deliveries.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.