How does Amazon deliver packages so quickly?

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With Amazon Prime's 2-day shipping, I seldom go to physical stores any more. How do they deliver items so quickly? Let's analyze some data to find out...

There are very few services/memberships that I truly feel like I'm getting "a good deal" for my money - and Amazon Prime is one of them. Amazon has a huge product selection, with detailed information about each product. There's also a good search engine that always seems to work the way I want it to. And they have a large customer base, and the customers frequently post very useful product reviews & ratings. But the feature that impresses me the most is the 2-day shipping! I used to hate ordering things through the mail, because it typically took 5-10 days - but with Amazon Prime's free 2-day shipping, I usually have the item quicker than I could have found the time to drive to physical stores shopping for it.

For example, here's an exact replacement antenna I recently bought on Amazon for my vintage 1980's Conion boombox. Believe me - I could have driven around town for weeks looking in electronics stores, and still not found one!

antenna

How does Amazon deliver their packages so quickly? Some claim that they use a fleet of unmanned drone aircraft to deliver their packages. They don't - or at least not yet! (see Amazon Prime Air proposal)

AMAZON TESTE LA LIVRAISON DE COLIS PAR DES DRONES

But what they do have is a network of huge distribution warehouses, strategically placed across the US. So, while you're shopping online, they check to see if the item you want is in a warehouse close enough to your location that it could be delivered within 2 days. And, of course, they have people working in the warehouses around the clock pulling the items you order, and packaging them to ship immediately after you order them.

I was curious which warehouse(s) were closest to me, and found a map on the Amazon website. I could see that three states bordering North Carolina have a distribution center, but I couldn't tell exactly where the warehouses were located within each state. I did a bit more searching and found an article that listed the addresses of the warehouses. With that info, I was able to use Proc Geocode to estimate the latitude/longitude of each warehouse, and plot them on a SAS map (click the map below to see the interactive version with html hover-text over each marker, and links to bring up a Google satellite map of each location):

amazon_fulfillment_centers

 

 

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About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over 25 years, and is perhaps the foremost expert in creating custom graphs using SAS/GRAPH. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University. He is the author of several conference papers, has won a few graphic competitions, and has written a book (SAS/GRAPH: Beyond the Basics).

3 Comments

  1. "And, of course, they have people working in the warehouses around the clock pulling the items you order, and packaging them to ship immediately after you order them."

    Have seen this cool video about the Kiva robots that pick items at Amazon warehouses? (This is actually from a Staples warehouse, but Amazon now owns Kiva...) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KRjuuEVEZs

    p.s. Love your posts!

  2. I live in London / Great Britain ,
    And prime membership gives me 30 day trial period and I've been buying all manner of goods on Amazon lately and I'm really impressed with the reliable delivery service they offer
    Who would want to go to actual stores and shops anymore ?!
    I know that I wouldn't want to spend hours in shops and stores and find no shop assistance whatsoever to provide me with some assistance and come back home tired and disappointed for not being successful in my planned purchases , the worst thing that actual stores do is not having informed shop floor assistance that works very much against their profit margin and I think actual stores will be a thing of the past in a not distant future .

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