Keeping track of inventory inside Amazon’s fulfillment centers isn’t always easy for third-party merchants who use Fulfillment By Amazon. Now it may get even more challenging with the addition of a fleet of planes the company will add to its logistics network – but it could also present opportunities.
Amazon entered into agreements to lease 40 dedicated cargo airplanes and showed off its first branded plane, “Amazon One,” on Friday. The Boeing 767-300, operated by Amazon’s air cargo provider Atlas Air, flew in the Seafair Air Show in Seattle over the weekend.
Amazon spokesperson Amanda Ip confirmed the planes will be used to move inventory. “These planes will be used to supplement and secure additional capacity to support one and two-day delivery for our rapidly growing number of Prime members,” she told EcommerceBytes.
We noted that sellers who use FBA would be especially intrigued by the use of the planes. Will Amazon use them to ferry goods between FCs, and if so, will that include FBA merchandise, we asked.
“The items delivered will be anything Prime available which could include FBA merchandise stored at our fulfillment centers,” Ip said.
As FBA sellers know, Amazon moves inventory around its network of fulfillment centers in order to help it meet the quick-delivery demands of its Prime membership program. With the help of planes, it could mean sellers’ inventory becomes available for ordering sooner, spending less time in trucks on the highway.
Reports that Amazon had purchased truck trailers and leased cargo jets had already forced it to acknowledge the fleets to Wall Street after rumors began circulating that Amazon was going to begin competing with shipping carriers.
But Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky had told analysts they were not meant to replace Amazon’s logistics partners. “Those carriers are just not able to handle all of our capacity that we need at peak,” he said, but called them “good partners.”
Dave Clark, Senior VP of Worldwide Operations, who has been with Amazon for 17 years, said on Friday that for much of that time, the company’s operations teams have been focused on fulfillment centers and core supply chain processes, “creating the capabilities required to enable the world’s largest selection with fast free shipping for Prime members.”
“Now,” he said, “we see the same opportunity to innovate in transportation.”
The timing of the announcement comes as the holiday shopping season comes speeding toward merchants.
Clark said, “Adding capacity for Prime members by developing a dedicated air cargo network ensures there is enough available capacity to provide customers with great selection, low prices and incredible shipping speeds for years to come. Over the next couple of years, we’ll roll out 40 planes just like this one.”
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