Amazon reportedly will open 1,000 delivery hubs in the United States, a move that would bring products closer to consumers and help ensure quicker shipments.
The news comes from Bloomberg, which cited sources familiar with the plans. The report came as the holiday season approaches — a time during which fulfillment can make or break retail efforts — and as Amazon embarks on a plan to hire 100,000 fulfillment and logistics workers, both for full- and part-time roles in the United States and Canada. Like other retailers, the early stages of the pandemic brought fulfillment hiccups to Amazon’s vast distribution and logistics network, problems that have since been worked out.
Amazon recently said that it has already opened more than 75 new fulfillment and sortation centers, regional air hubs, and delivery stations in the the United States and Canada so far this year, and that it will open 100 delivery, sortation and other fulfillment facilities in September.
No immediate comment was available from Amazon, but those delivery hubs reportedly will be located in U.S. cities and suburbs, and would be smaller than most other Amazon fulfillment facilities. Some of those delivery hubs reportedly would be located within empty retail stores, along with malls and car dealerships — that is, those hubs could help Amazon better solve the “last-mile” problem for retail deliveries. Amazon could still face zoning and other hurdles when it comes to opening more delivery hubs in existing buildings, but if Amazon has proven anything, it's that the company is determined to keep improving its fulfillment prowess.
Amazon’s newest move comes amid other fulfillment expansions by various types of retailers, including supermarkets and grocery stores. For instance, as more grocery shoppers use e-commerce, H-E-B is responding to that rising demand by installing automated micro-fulfillment centers (MFC), leveraging one of the hottest trends in food retail.
Meanwhile, Walmart — like Amazon — is looking toward drones for the future of fulfillment, a future that could come relatively soon. Walmart has launched a pilot in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to deliver select grocery and household essential items by drone. The pilot is in partnership with end-to-end drone delivery company Flytrex, based in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods is No. 24 and San Antonio-based H-E-B is No. 17 on PG's list