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How Amazon Uses ‘Mini’ Fulfillment Centers for Same-Day Orders

How Amazon Uses 'Mini' Fulfillment Centers for Same-Day Orders

Amazon expanded its “faster” Same-Day Delivery service to the metro areas of Miami, Minneapolis, and Atlanta, and to additional neighborhoods within Chicago, it announced today.

In order to fulfill the orders, Amazon uses mini-fulfillment centers, which at 100,000 square feet, are 1/10 the size of a traditional fulfillment center.

In March of 2020, Amazon announced its “faster” same-day delivery initiative, writing, “We’re able to do so by storing need-it-today items in brand new facilities we built even closer to customers. These are first-of-their-kind buildings and serve as mini-fulfillment centers optimized for faster click-to-delivery speeds.” It kicked off the service in Philadelphia, Phoenix, Orlando, and Dallas on about 3 million items.

Today, Amazon provided an update, writing, “Since we launched the service more than a year ago, Prime members in more than a dozen cities are able to order from the widest selection available of up to 3 million items across a dozen categories, including Baby, Beauty & Health, Kitchen & Dining, Electronics, Pet Supplies, and more. These fast delivery speeds are also environmentally sustainable because products are located closer to customers—drastically reducing the logistical delivery process.”

Here’s a closer look at how Amazon fulfills these “faster” same-day orders at its mini-centers:

Trailers with items from vendors and small- and medium-sized business sellers arrive on trucks by appointment and are unloaded and staged by employees and sent to Receiving workstations.

Amazon employees scan and stow items in shelving units.

After a customer order is placed, the computer system tells the robotic unit to bring the shelving unit to the employee to pick the item from the bin.

Next, the item is sent to the Pack station where it is placed in packaging, the shipping label is affixed, and it’s sent on a conveyor belt to Dispatch. (Large items that don’t fit in the shelving units and are shipped in their own packaging are stored nearby and are sent to Dispatch on the conveyor belt.)

At the Dispatch area, workers sort and place the parcels into carts separated by geographic areas.

Throughout the day, drivers arrive at Amazon to pick up packages and deliver to customers – in as fast as 5 hours from the time of the order.

Note that in geographies where Same-Day Delivery is available, Prime members pay $2.99 – or nothing for same-day orders over $35 (non-Prime members pay a flat fee of $12.99 per Same-Day order).

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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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

One thought on “How Amazon Uses ‘Mini’ Fulfillment Centers for Same-Day Orders”

  1. You know big and small businesses are angry at Amazon because they’re recruiting and hiring away workers that are needed in other industries. Amazon needs to scale back some. Plus AMZ is paying more $$/hour than other businesses pushing the wages up, to the point that businesses can’t compete.

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