Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Dec 4 2019 20:53:09

What Is Behind Amazon Prime Shipping Delays?

By: Ina Steiner

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Amazon is no longer showing 2-day delivery for Prime orders this week, according to customers - and it's even impacting third-party sellers who ship from their own facilities, one seller told us. (See update below.)

Some are speculating that Cyber Monday was particularly successful this year, leading to a crush of orders that's clogging the delivery pipeline. There were also snowstorms across the country that may have caused a backlog. Whether those factors are impacting only Amazon's own logistics or other shipping carriers as well isn't clear. 

It's also possible the shipping delays are related to Amazon's loss of FedEx contracts, news that became public in June. At the time, the Washington Post had written: "FedEx said Friday it has decided not to renew a key domestic contract with Amazon, a move that could pinch the online retail giant during its all-important holiday shipping season when it has sometimes struggled to get packages to customers on time."

However, as we noted in August, Amazon Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations Dave Clark responded to a Bloomberg story via Twitter, saying FedEx was a "very small piece of our network and vice versa."

Interestingly Clark said in a video released on Twitter on Monday (December 2), "Prime customers are loving the one-day shipping that they're now getting on their orders." Bad timing! We can confirm that some Amazon Prime orders made that day are showing a Friday delivery date, which is 4 days.

Sellers discussed the problem on Amazon Seller Central, where one seller wrote, "I've purchased several items, all were listed as Prime. Ordered one on the 2nd that said delivery by the 6th and one on the 3rd, delivery by the 9th. Funny how all my stuff still has to arrive on time."

One seller accused Amazon of manipulating the delivery date on his items so as not to disadvantage its own orders. 

"We have a 2PM EST cutoff time for same day shipping on all Next Day orders but all of our listings are showing a Next Day shipping delivery date of Monday 12/09 when it should be showing Thursday 12/05," he told EcommerceBytes.

He said his firm always hits both ship-by dates and delivery dates - "100% in both metrics" - and said the extended delivery dates are costing his business to lose orders.

"Our delivery dates should not be affected because Amazon cannot fulfill their own orders within the promised timeframe."

It's possible that Amazon has data showing a backlog at the shipping carrier the seller used, but if so, why not be transparent? The seller told us, "I have called Seller Support about this and they recognize there is a problem with our delivery dates that show to the customers but could not give me any reason as to why they are being affected."

With Christmas Day exactly 3 weeks away, shipping delays could get worse. On Tuesday, AccuWeather advised holiday shoppers to get their orders in early because of anticipated weather events that could lead to delays. "As December moseys on, a few wintry storms are forecast to march across the continental U.S. around the middle of December and just before Christmas," it wrote. But it said nothing about any delays occurring this week.

We wonder if the Amazon Prime shipping delay issue this week is the canary in the coalmine - could there be a widespread delivery backlog? Let us know if you're seeing delays as a buyer or seller on Amazon or other retail platforms!

Updated 12/5/2019: An Amazon spokesperson provided us with the following statement:
 
"We are off to a record-breaking start to the holiday season and on peak shopping days, delivery promises vary and may be longer than normal based on order volume and the fulfillment and delivery capacity available in a given area. The winter storms that swept across much of the country at the same time also extended delivery times in some areas. We will work directly with customers who are experiencing an issue with their delivery."

Update 12/6/19Tweet worded to sound like a denial of delivery problems (which EcommerceBytes was first to report) while acknowledging delivery problems: "Seen a few reports that saying we're having delivery problems. Not the case. Some deliveries were briefly impacted by weather earlier in the week but we quickly re-balanced capacity and it's all systems go now. Thanks to our customers for what looks to be another big holiday."



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by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 4 22:10:47 2019

I am a Prime customer. Have been for years.  I live in a major city.  Majority of my orders are for Prime items. Over the last two years a bit over 32 percent of my orders have been late.  In house Amazon delivery service accounting for the majority of those late deliveries.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Dec 4 22:24:40 2019

I was looking at a couple of things on Amazon today, in in both cases it said "Order in the next XX hours and get it tomorrow." I don't know if that's because I live in a major city. And I don't recall a single time that a Prime order was delayed.

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by: SellerGirl This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 5 06:38:19 2019

I don't buy from Amazon because of 1 day delivery, I buy because I live in a rural area where the nearest stores other than chain superstores and mom-n-pops are 30-60 miles away. 99% of the time 1 day arrival means nothing to me, it's the convenience of not having to drive all over in hopes of finding what I want. 1 day, 2 day, 4 day, it's all the same to me.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 5 06:49:30 2019

I always knew that push to deliver in one day/two days was a fail.  It could only succeed for 70-90% of the time, not 100%.  I've been getting late Prime orders - at least 2-3 days, but I don't mind.  I could order and ship to store, but that takes longer.
In my 'hood the drivers are working their tails off.  I ran into one the other day who was struggling with all his boxes and I offered to help.  I feel sorry for them.  AMZ doesn't have ENOUGH workers and drivers - they're competing with other companies for workers....Blame Trump.  By keeping "eligible" asylum keepers and immigrants out of America, businesses are suffering lack of workers.  You can read about it in any business magazine.  
in Chicago, we need restaurant workers badly, and the So. Americans are the best workers, but restaurants can't get them.
These younger kids don't stay in a job long enough -- trust me.  I can go to the same restaurant or retail store every week and every week there's different "young" workers.  The only reliable workers are the older workers.  Sorry America, you voted for him.

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by: Venom This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 5 06:56:02 2019

This week on Tuesday the 3rd and Wednesday the 4th I ordered over 20 items from Amazon. Every one was listed as a Prime 2 Day Delivery.. After completing my orders all showed delivery dates of 4-6 Days.  Right now on Amazon any item I select with Prime shows a minimum 4 day delivery. I called Amazon to find out why and was told it was due to the overwhelming response of Cyber Monday. I mentioned that Prime is a service I pay for, so it is unacceptable that Amazon just lengthens the delivery dates. They offered a $12.99 credit, equal to one months Prime membership.. I asked when they think they will have normal two day shipping dates back and the responded that they are working on it. I have to say that I have been a Prime member since Prime was launched. In the last year I have seen countless Prime orders not even come close to 2 day shipping.. Some took as long as 11 days to get to me. I order parts for jobs I am working on and timely delivery is important to me. Sometimes I will pay more for a Prime item based on the 1 or 2 day delivery, when I go to check on my item in the Orders section I see the arrival date has changed from what was listed when I bought the item. I have spoken with Amazon before about this and their response was '' Do not use Buy it Now, add it to the cart and you will see the anticipated delivery date'' I tried their answer and it still does the same thing. It might show a delivery date of Wednesday and when I come back later to check my orders it will have changed to Friday or even Monday. Add the shipping problems to the fact that they are steadily raising the prices on items as well as not letting you search from the lowest to highest price ( They delete most results and steer you to what they want you to buy, all at much higher prices ) means they are heading down a path that will not have a happy ending for consumers... I have over 300 purchases from Amazon this year.. It would be a much higher number but I have started using Ebay quite a bit. I am getting most items in 2-4 days without paying for a membership and in most cases the prices are better than Amazon. A few years ago I would never have used Ebay.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 5 07:04:51 2019

Prime is not just for shipping.  I have Prime because of the "free" movies and TV.  I'm a teacher and show the videos to my classes.  Also, the music is free.  So there's a lot more to prime than shipping.  Maybe that's what AMZ should promote.

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by: Venom This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 5 07:20:48 2019

Prime Debuted as a Shipping Service.. And people loved it.. Then Amazon piggy backed the Movies, Music, etc... onto it. Then raised the price on Prime for those services.. In other words, to boost the Prime Video Subscriber base and to pay for those Movie services they forced all Prime Shipping Members to become Prime video members.. Most of what you pay for with Prime is for the Movies,Music and other content now. I barely use any of those services and it always bothers me that I was forced into paying for them. And if you are paying for Prime.. There is no such thing as Free Movies, Music, etc....

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This user has validated their user name. by: NoMoreEbay

Thu Dec 5 09:35:06 2019

Everything is chaotic, delayed and what have you this time of year. Airlines, shipping, malls, traffic, long lines etc. Tis the season of the annual brainwashing for the shopping frenzies.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Dec 5 10:49:10 2019

@Chicago48 - I agree. Lots of times there is nothing I want to watch on the TV, so the movies available on Prime are a great alternative. Fast shipping is nice, but that's not the main reason I continue the Prime subscription.  

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by: Geetar This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 5 11:58:03 2019

@Chicago48  Trumps immigration policies??

Let me tell you something. I went to school to learn to be a chef. I watched the prevailing wage come down to an amount that is not a living wage. So those young people that you talk about, maybe they find that it is so hard it is not worth the money. And yes I dont mind working hard, but I better get paid to do it, otherwise, go find someone else if you can.

Dont give me the "they cant pay that much" crap. Well then the prices they charge should go up. Years ago not everyone was able to eat out every day, or even every week. That balanced out the whole thing. Workers were paid well, the restaurants did not have a shortage of workers, because everyone wasnt eating out. You cant rely on cheap immigration, you have to employ your current citizens with a fair wage first. Thats the same as people complaining about stuff made in China, and China sellers.

Its all bull about a shortage of workers, pay more, you wont have a shortage. It's that simple. I'm sure its the same with the Amazon prime drivers.

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by: JohnGermaine This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 5 12:31:43 2019

The real question is: Why is anyone still shopping at Amazon?  

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Dec 5 13:29:29 2019

@Chicago48 - I also agree with you regarding the young kids today. They don't seem to have any work ethic, which is probably why there's so much online scamming. I used to go into the T-Mobile store every month to pay my bill, and there was an entire new staff every time. I remember one time this guy was assisting me, and every few seconds he would look at his personal cellphone to check his text messages. I almost said something along the lines of does his manager know he's what his doing.

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by: jewelryqueen521 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Dec 5 15:53:04 2019

My next day deliveries have taken up to 6 days for quite a while, even on things they list as perishable. Which would be fine if they didn’t pack them w ice bags that melt and contaminate the product???? Have given up trying to communicate on broken items since there is no reply. It is what it is. Too big to handle and not managed well.

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by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 6 22:40:44 2019

Last update quoted above sounds just right for a large company or the government in how they excuse lousy, or not as expected or promised performance.

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by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 6 22:42:00 2019

PS to my last. I am still waiting for my last Prime order to arrive  -- 4 days and counting..... lol

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sat Dec 7 13:04:45 2019

@JohnGermaine

I only shopped on Amazon for 1 year with free Prime I got with my Frontier account. I never renewed

I support eBay not Amazon. . . .

But I will say that every Amazon order I placed was on my doorstep with in 24 hours!

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Sun Dec 8 18:30:37 2019

Re: work ethic

Pay peanuts, get monkeys.  Low pay, no benefits, irregular schedules, no profit sharing, no recognition of outstanding work, no opportunity for advancement.  Gee, I wonder why they don't try very hard.  Maybe another beating will improve morale.

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by: jimm This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 9 11:44:47 2019

They fixed the glitch alright,  by not fulfilling orders. I order items on Monday of last week that we supposedly in stock, (these items were sold by Amazon.com). The items are still not shipped and the delivery date keeps moving further into the future. Now the items are estimated to arrive until after the 25th,  (that is unless they deliver on the 25th).



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