How does Amazon deliver packages so quickly?


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!


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)


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):





About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

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  1. Dave Wisbiski on

    Folks. Drones will not b delivery packages. I can almost bet my life on it. My 1st argument. about 1975 I saw on the news a man reading the news paper and the car driving by itself on a oval track. GM announced that one day soon cars will b driving by them self’s. Well over 40 yrs have past. Nothing. How many car companies have been trying this. A ton. Yea, maybe 1 or 2 have succeed but it not available to the consumer. Why. Bc so many computers in it that even your dog couldn’t ride with u. Well I suppose someone has now made it that maybe a friend can drive with u. Lol. Well back to drones. I guess someone in China had a tea bag deliver by a drone. Hmmm. Nothing about distance or anything. Well I guess anybody can open up a delivery company. A very small one and the neighbor across the street orders a tea bag. The sole purpose is to b the 1st.
    A child could have ran across the street to deliver or let him practice driving a drone and making the 50-100 ft delivery. UPS has a commercial. The truck roof open. Sorry folks it’s to act like it’s keeping up with the times. Open a roof of a ups vehicle on a windy day. All the letters may start whipping around. How about rain, snow? I’ve never seen a convertible car open it’s roof on those days. Now if u had a perfect day to open the roof. Would u fly a $1000+ drone for delivery. Hmmm. Kids will try to capture it. Some dogs will probably attack it. Oh, the paranoid man See one flying over his property. Shot gun and shoots it down. Or it’s flying over farm field like the commercial. Kids or adults will grab the gun to have fun target shooting. You imagine being a kid and taking one down plus u get the box. Or ppl will want to capture the $1000+ drone to make it there own. To many “Ifs”. Cars r not driving by themselfs after 40 yrs of saying it will happen. I’m 50 yrs old. I hope soon it does. Drones. Way out of reach. Only way. Calm days and night deliveries. They will probably have to drop packages at about 10 ft high so no one can grasp the drone. But than middle of the night u hear a thump on your porch. Ppl really going to love that. Drone r a great idea Bc fuel and wear on vehicle. But convert big roofs and drivers looking for drones when they don’t come back. To many problems and cost.

  2. Are there any updates about the Amazon drones delivering packages in the US? Last I heard was that they were testing, and it wasn't going well.

  3. If shopping online for a specific something I always buy on Amazon if the price is close. (they deliver on Sundays, and every day is counted, I'm impressed with the free 2 day reliable speed). Returning is as simple as clicking a button and printing a label, there is no discussion or argument so that's very nice. Warranty items are also pretty smooth as the distribution guys who sell and FBA are large enough to protect their rep/rating and versed enough in handling them so it's a smoother experience too if something goes wrong past day 30 and it advertises a warranty.

    They win the service model by leaps and bounds,but not always the price model

    Their prices suck for packaged food/sundry items however so a trip to town will always beat them there. (Walmart,Costco)

    They never do things to match places like Costco in bulk steals, so that's an advantage away from them. Today's deals,lightning deals, sometimes have neat offerings but I'm sorry it's nothing like : We've too much shrimp- 20lbs for $15 today only,please don't murder each other for it.

    Their prices suck in other areas. I bought a computer case from newegg for around $30 shipped,even w/o the special sale for it was 50. The exact model is offered by Amazon for 70. Theres just no way I'm picking Amazon on that one, even though if they would had said $35 I'd have picked them in a heartbeat for the fast shipping and hassle free everything else.

    Amazon is a beast, but it's got weak points it never seems to address (maybe pride) so there is plenty of room for competition.

  4. 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 .

  5. "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...)

    p.s. Love your posts!

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