Amazon.com Inc. is expanding a service launched to make more groceries, cleaning supplies and other products available for quick delivery directly from merchants without overwhelming the e-commerce giant’s warehouses with additional inventory, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg.
The trial pushes Amazon’s logistical reach beyond its own facilities and into those of its merchants, encroaching on services of long-time delivery partners United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp.
Amazon is enticing the sellers who use the company’s online marketplace with lower delivery costs, logistics software, warehouse inspections and recommendations.
Bloomberg first reported on the trial in October, which was called “seller flex.”
Amazon will oversee pickup of packages from warehouses of third-party merchants selling goods on Amazon.com and the delivery to customers’ homes, work that is now often handled by UPS and FedEx.
Amazon could still use these couriers for delivery, but the company will decide how a package is sent instead of leaving it up to the seller.
Handling more deliveries itself would give Seattle-based Amazon greater flexibility and control over the last mile to shoppers’ doorsteps, let it save money through volume discounts and help avoid congestion in its warehouses by keeping merchandise in the outside sellers’ own facilities.
Amazon is recruiting more sellers and has changed the name to FBA Onsite, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg, associating the program with its popular logistics service Fulfillment By Amazon that launched in 2006.
Amazon is telling merchants they can keep goods in their own warehouses and still participate in programs such as “Subscribe and Save,” a household goods replenishment service that offers customers discounts on frequently purchased items, and “Small and Light,” a free delivery service of products that are cheap to ship due to their size.
Merchants previously had to send goods to Amazon facilities and pay additional fees to participate in these programmes. The company declined to comment.
FBA Onsite is Amazon’s latest attempt to increase inventory, shorten delivery times and reduce costs. The company already has built a network of centres around the country, where packages are sorted by zip code and trucked to post offices, with the United States Postal Service handling the final mile of delivery.
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