As Amazon expands into logistics services, the giant retailer is taking on more of the characteristics of a third-party logistics (3PL) company. How might that shape the industry’s competitive landscape? This story first appeared in the Quarter 3/2014 edition of CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly, a journal of thought leadership for the supply chain management profession and a sister publication to AGiLE Business Media’s DC Velocity. Readers can obtain a subscription by joining the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (whose membership dues include the Quarterly’ s subscription fee). Subscriptions are also available to nonmembers for $34.95 (digital) or $89 a year (print). For more information, visit www.SupplyChainQuarterly.com . Amazon.com has come a long way since its founder and chief executive officer, Jeff Bezos, envisioned the company as a virtual bookstore. It has evolved into an online retail giant that generated $74.45 billion in revenues in 2013, much of that coming from its support of more than 2 million companies that used Amazon to sell their products online and distribute them to customers. Under the company’s various programs, Amazon not only provides its customers with a means of advertising and selling their products, but also offers to store those products in its fulfillment centers; pick, pack, and ship them; and provide customer service, including handling returns. In the process of developing its network to support those services, Amazon has built out an infrastructure that by one recent account now includes 145 warehouses around the world (84 in the United States, four in Canada, 29 in Europe, 15 in China, 10 in Japan, and seven in India), which collectively account for more than 40 million square feet of space. Amazon has also made substantial investments in material handling systems, including the acquisition of Kiva Systems for $775 million in 2012. 1 […]
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