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Amazon’s bonkers warehouse and delivery empire, by the numbers

Putting the retailer’s gigantic global operation into perspective

Amazon’s fulfillment center in Las Vegas.
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This year’s holiday season will be Amazon’s twenty-fifth, and keeping in line with the retail behemoth’s continued growth, the company will now expand its delivery options to offer millions of products for sale for free, one-day delivery. Behind this audacious promise lies an immense, intricate logistics network that enables it to offer incredible delivery times to every corner of the country. Last holiday season, the company says it shipped one billion items to its Prime Members across the globe.

While consumers rarely see Amazon as more than a cardboard package on their doorstep, the company’s physical footprint is pretty wild. The retail giant now operates more than 175 fulfillment centers around the globe, 110 of which are in North America, and employs 250,000 full-time hourly associates. During the previous holiday seasons, the company hired an additional 120,000 workers across its logistics and warehouse network (it only hired 100,000 holiday temp workers in 2018 because investment in robotics meant less need for seasonal staff).

Here are some incredible facts—and figures—behind Amazon’s extensive and expanding logistics network.

1. Amazon is expected to capture nearly half of all online retail spend this year.

The company has been creeping up to this milestone for years. According to a Slice Intelligence report cited in the Wall Street Journal, Amazon captured 42 cents of every dollar spent online in 2017, up from 38 cents in 2017, and analysts predict it’ll cross the 47 percent line in 2019. According to Piper Jaffray, Amazon is expected to sell 12.6 billion items in 2020.

2. During holiday rushes, some Amazon warehouses ship more than 1 million items a day, a speed of packaging and sorting that has been identified as a workplace hazard, with injuries hitting twice the national average for some warehouse facilities.

ROMEOVILLE, IL - AUGUST 01:  Workers pack and ship customer orders at the 750,000-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center on August 1, 2017 in Romeoville, Illinois. On August 2, Amazon will be holding job fairs at several fulfillment centers around the country, including the Romeoville facility, in an attempt to hire more than 50,000 workers.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Workers pack and ship customer orders at the 750,000-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center on August 1, 2017 in Romeoville, Illinois.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

3. Some of these fulfillment centers are massive.

This fall, Amazon announced it would be opening a new fulfillment center near Joliet, Illinois, which will cover more than one million square feet. While immense, that’s still not the largest such U.S. facility run by the retailer; one in Schertz, Texas, covers 1,264,200 square feet.

The company’s total worldwide physical footprint—including warehouses and fulfillment centers, data centers for its sizable cloud business, and office space—covered more than 250 million square feet of owned and leased space, according to last year’s annual report. For context, that’s more than 38 Pentagons worth of space (and that’s before the HQ2 expansion).

4. One of these fulfillment centers is likely very close.

According to Cooper Smith, an analyst at L2 Inc., a New York-based business-intelligence firm, Amazon “now has warehouses within 20 miles of half the U.S. population.”

5. The Post Office ships about 40 percent of Amazon’s packages.

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6. Amazon is expanding its own delivery service.

With such a huge network, and a constant drive to improve performance and cut delivery time, it was perhaps inevitable Amazon would enter the transportation and delivery markets. Currently its Flex delivery service, which hires contract drivers, operates in 50 cities.

But Amazon has much larger ambitions. In 2016, it unveiled its first branded cargo plane. It now plans to operate a fleet of 70 cargo planes by 2021, and makes deliveries in 20 U.S. locations. It’s also reportedly been testing out drone technology for delivering small packages.

7. Amazon is one of the biggest corporate purchasers of renewable power.

When Jeff Bezos posted a video of his christening of a new windmill on Twitter, it led many to comment on how the vest-wearing CEO had suddenly become ripped. But, jokes aside, it did showcase the company’s considerable investment in renewable power.

The company has finished or begun construction on wind and solar facilities that will produce 3.6 million megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy annually. The Amazon Wind Farm Texas alone will generate over 1 million megawatt hours annually. By the end of 2017, 15 fulfillment centers were topped with solar installations, and the company aims to add solar power to 50 of them by the end of 2020.

8. Amazon is helping industrial real estate blow up.

Warehouses and fulfillment centers weren’t really considered sexy investments. But with the rise of Amazon, as well as the desire for more data centers, suddenly big, boxy buildings are in. Analysts from CBRE found industrial rents rose by 23.9 percent between 2014 and 2019.

New construction is up and prices for warehouse real estate have risen at a steady clip since 2012. Warehouses are literally getting bigger, with industry-standard 24-foot-tall structures making way for 34-foot-high buildings tailored to e-commerce.

9. Amazon expects to spend $1.5 billion on one-day shipping during Q4 this year.

Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos has long made faster delivery a priority, introducing Prime membership in 2005, a move that fundamentally changed online retail. The idea of creating a faster logistics network has long fascinated him: according to The Guardian, “he once suggested that, by paying college students on every Manhattan block to stockpile products in their apartments and to shuttle them up and down on bicycles, Amazon could edge towards near-instant delivery.” And, now that Amazon has basically eliminated any order minimum to utilize Prime delivery, consumers can order something an innocuous as a bar or deodorant and have it delivered with free, one-day shipping.

10. Amazon announced it wants to go green.

Earlier this year, Amazon announced The Climate Pledge, a commitment to meet the Paris Agreement by achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040. Amazon plans to meet this goal, in part, by investing $100 million in reforestation projects, and just ordered a fleet of 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian. Amazon also pledged to reach 100 percent renewable by 2030. The company has quite a long ways to go: Amazon’s overall carbon footprint, 44.4 million tons of carbon dioxide, is bigger than the entire country of Denmark.