Amazon has already done more than its fair share of innovating in the e-commerce and distribution industries. Now it’s also trying to muscle in on territory currently dominated by delivery companies like UPS and FedEx. With Amazon “Flex,” the company wants to take control of delivering orders directly to customers’ doors.
Amazon currently has a network of more than 296 warehouse facilities in the United States, with distribution centers jam-packed with everything from household cleaners to hand puppets.
But now the company wants to handle the so-called “last mile” delivery process too. The plan: to pick up items being housed in UPS and FedEx delivery centers and deliver them directly to customers. That way, Amazon can also avoid having to take on more inventory in its already-crowded facilities.
Trials of the “Seller Flex” program started in October 2017. It’s focusing on items that many customers want to see a faster-than-normal turnaround time on, like groceries and household cleaners. Amazon also hopes to reduce the cost of delivering certain HAZMAT items, like spray paint and batteries.
Benefits To Amazon
The purpose of the Seller Flex program is to give Amazon more control of the end-user’s delivery experience.
In 2017, UPS created extra headaches for Amazon’s customers when the carrier was overwhelmed by holiday orders.
When customers started receiving their holiday gifts late, Amazon bore the brunt of complaints and refund demands, even though the seller hadn’t done anything wrong.
By exercising more control over last-mile deliveries of its products, Amazon hopes save money by avoiding congestion in its own warehouses. It also hopes to increase customer goodwill by being able to offer free two-day delivery on more items.
It’s hard to say how well Seller Flex is faring so far. After an explosion of buzz last fall when the trial started, both Amazon and sellers have largely gone quiet. But retailers and freight companies should keep paying attention: Amazon is seeking more and more domination over the shopping and shipping experience, from first click to delivery.
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