Amazon May Or May Not Be Trying To Overtake UPS And FedEx

Image courtesy of Alan Rappa

When you see a UPS or FedEx truck in your neighborhood on a weekday, or a U.S. Postal Service truck on a Sunday, they’re probably there with some kind of delivery from an online retailer, and that retailer is likely to be Amazon. As more of our everyday shopping happens online, someone will need to bring those items to our doorsteps, but it may not necessarily be the carriers we’re used to.

Amazon is taking over more of its own delivery functions. Is the retail giant trying to put its partners out of business? No, Amazon representatives say, as it adds cities and drivers to its Flex package delivery service.

In a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story this week, though, we learned about the big picture of Amazon’s delivery projects in the context of its global ambitions and future projects.

In a public interview at this year’s Code Conference put on by Recode, tech journalist Walt Mossberg asked Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos about the growth of white Amazon vans in some metropolitan areas, and specifically about whether Amazon wants to replace existing delivery services.

“We will take all the capacity that the U.S. Postal Service can give us and that UPS can give us and we still need to supplement it,” Bezos explained.

Yet in the United Kingdom, Amazon now delivers about half of its packages itself, insisting that the Royal Mail doesn’t have the capacity to handle all of the packages that Amazon customers are ordering. Royal Mail representatives dispute this, but Amazon went ahead and created a delivery network in that country anyway.

Its home country is bigger and sprawls more, though, and here Amazon used the exact opposite tactic, paying the U.S. Postal Service to make Sunday deliveries and carry more of its packages from a final distribution point to customers’ homes.

When discussing Amazon, its delivery partners, and their future together, Christmas 2013 is a key date: while the carriers appeared to be unprepared for an onslaught of packages, carriers’ complaint was that Amazon dumped more deliveries than expected on them at distribution centers, leading to a costly backlog that disappointed gift recipients.

Will Amazon Kill FedEx? [Bloomberg Businessweek]

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