Packaging is an evolving concept. Eventually many products may be shipped in their original packages and not require an additional box. Maybe house pickup is ludicrous, but specialized induction facilities aren’t out of the question. Sure the hub network is small now, but it’s growing, and CVG is being built!
I never said the cost is zero. I said that with Amazon’s scale and volume they can get close.
I appreciate your comments regarding success and failure. I think that’s spot on.
Packaging is kinda interesting. Yes in some ways it has evolved.. on the inside. Almost all shipments are packed in either a box, a padded envelope, or even just an envelope. We've seen Amazon push/embrace some packaging revolutions, like those wonderful air pillows that have replaced the fun bubble wrap and the evil packing peanuts.
A lot of the recent innovation is just Amazon riffing on the padded envelope, mostly because the older package types such as bubble lined paper mailers
are non-recyclable. They working on replacing them with either the Blue and White Bubble-lined plastic bag
or the new fangled Paper padded mailer
. (Take look at Amazon Second Chance
for all the types of packaging they have.) Also, I'ven't been able to find a link, but from what I understand items that come in the Blue & White bubble-lined plastic bags are actually automatically packed by machine.
Amazon has been working toward items that can ship in their existing boxes. That is/was part of the push for Frustration Free Packaging
, but I'd also suggest that a vast majority of the items on Amazon still come in some version of the packaging you'd find it in at other stores, and one of the things I've seen with Frustration Free Packaging is if you order two items, they'll often put both of them together in a box. :-/
Theres also the newer packaging pushes, such as the Tide EcoBox, but if you watch the video
on how the packaging was put together, you'll note the say "less secondary packaging" not no-secondary packaging, and that thing has to ship in plastic overwrap, probably because the perforated cut outs wouldn't necessarily survive the shipping process un popped out, plus there is that whole thing with P&G wanting to have the package properly branded, that doesn't always mesh well with the necessity of shipping labels and the fact that a box on someone's porch with the Tide logo is more likely to be stolen. (Liquid Tide is a high theft item.)
As for the low hanging fruit before Amazon opens up allowing anyone to drop a package into their system, I think we'll see Amazon offering their shipping services to select merchants. That might mean that Amazon processes the package through their network and lets USPS or UPS handle the last mile.
Even before that Amazon can and should integrate their newer subsidiaries into their logistics system. PillPack for instance seems to send everything UPS, either the main UPS (Ground/Overnight/2nd Day) or via Mail Innovations. I haven't scoped out the rest of their subsidiaries for where they are in the logistics system, but it wouldn't surprise me that the longer the company has been owned by Amazon they more they're integrated into the system. Zappos.com has none of their own distribution capacity, its all managed by Amazon's fulfillment centers. I've also seen the same thing with Createspace and Booksurge.
As for offering shipping to select merchants, the biggest problem there is finding merchants who ship enough for Amazon to want to work with them that would be interested in working with Amazon. All of the big names that came to mind (Target, Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons) have the frenemie problem. Sure Amazon might be able to give them a good rate, but do they want Amazon to know that much about their business? And does Amazon want to deal with the vagaries of other businesses? (Amazon restaurants went away, and PrimeNow in Seattle only has two non-Amazon businesses that they deliver for)
Amazon likes end to end control, and they've continued to extend their control both ways. Amazon started without their own warehouses, they had books drop shipped to their customers, then Amazon added a few own warehouses initially in Delaware and Seattle, but let UPS/FedEx/USPS/Airborne Express handle the shipping from them. They then spread out a bit more with fulfillment centers in Fernley, NV; Coffeyville, KS; McDonough, GA; Campbellsville, KY; and Lexington, KY. Which seemed formidable in 1997, but Amazon is now approaching 300 fulfillment centers
, that is before counting sortation centers, etc. That growth was definitely planned in concert with the growing delivery system. At that same time we've seen them reach into logistics on the production side, reaching into brokering shipping from China to the USA.
Amazon does still seem to fit and follow the original name that Jeff Bezos wanted for the company: Relentless.com