In the past few years, Amazon has assumed market leadership in the delivery competition against competitors such as Ebay and Alibaba, and has no intention of forfeiting its position. In order to achieve this lead, Amazon began to offer two-day shipping to members of its Amazon Prime program. To make this service possible, Amazon placed massive distribution warehouses known as fulfillment centers all over the United States. According to Lecher (2019), the productivity of workers at these centers is monitored through an automated “tracking and termination process.”
This illustrates Amazon’s dedication to maximizing its efficiency, a strategy which has proven extremely successful. Amazon has also been reducing its total number of employers through the widespread utilization of two-wheeled drones that are responsible for moving products around its warehouses. However, though no competitors come close to Amazon in terms of revenue, the company plans to improve the efficiency of its delivery process even further through one-day delivery and Prime Air.
Last month, Amazon announced its plans to implement one-day delivery following an increase in profits. This announcement caused Amazon’s shares to increase “by as much as 2 percent in after-hours trade.” It should be noted that Amazon has already made significant progress towards achieving this goal. The company estimated that nearly a quarter of its products, especially in fulfillment centers near cities, can already reach customers within one day. The primary challenge, of course, is enabling this change in rural regions across the States.
Amazon’s own website explains its plans to implement Prime Air, a system that will use unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to deliver packages to customers in thirty minutes or less. Products intended for air shipping will be shipped in a special package that can be delivered by Amazon’s drones. These packages will be placed on a conveyor belt, retrieved by Amazon’s drones, and flown directly to the customer. Many may be wondering how Amazon intends to protect its drones from potential hackers and thieves. In 2014, Amazon filed for a patent that would continuously cross-check data between drones, including location and altitude, to determine whether or not packages were on the correct path to the buyer. This system would allow hijacked drones to be redirected to safe locations.
This patent was approved in 2016, revealing that Amazon’s Prime Air has been in development for many years.
The First Innovation
Neither one-day delivery nor Prime Air would be realistic goals for Amazon without the creation of its fulfillment centers. Though many companies are hesitant to replace human workers with machines, Amazon has welcomed automation as a means of becoming more efficient. Despite the debate about Amazon’s poor treatment of its employees, its low wages, and its sparse benefits, no other company comes close to Amazon’s innovation in delivery services. Amazon is in competition with itself, making improvements to delivery time that customers never asked for or anticipated. Often times, consumers ask themselves how they once summoned the patience to wait weeks for the arrival of products they purchased online. In the near future, after the release of one-day shipping and Prime Air, consumers may ask the same question about two-day shipping.