- Amazon's new standard of one-day shipping for Prime members will not require changes within its fulfillment centers, Amazon employees said on a recent tour of a Baltimore fulfillment center.
"Our rates are staying exactly the same, our productivity targets are the same," Scott Anderson, director of Amazon Robotics Fulfillment, said Tuesday. "And it’s actually really nice, we’re still able to hit that four-hour target from when you order the unit to when we ship it out the door, but we’ve been able to do that for the past couple years."
- Any changes that have to occur will be in middle- and last-mile transportation — the stages after a package leaves the fulfillment center. This will include the expansion of delivery stations and the build-up of the company's Amazon Flex fleet, an Amazon spokesperson told Supply Chain Dive in an email.
Amazon has been able to execute one-day shipping in many locations for some time now. The company feels confident expanding the offering because of the infrastructure it has built up over the years, Ashley Robinson, a spokesperson for Amazon, told Supply Chain Dive on the floor of the fulfillment center.
"So now that we've got the network where we can do that with all of the fulfillment centers, the delivery stations, the Prime Now, the Air hub, we're able to make that much more of a reality than we could before that scale," Robinson said.
This change in shipping standards comes as the company has faced criticism surrounding labor at its fulfillment centers.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union voiced concern about the plans for one-day shipping. "With two-day Prime shipping, Amazon fulfillment workers currently face speeds of 200-300 orders per hour in 12-hour shifts," Stuart Appelbaum, president of RWDSU, said in a press release. "They struggle already to maintain that pace. If Amazon plans to effectively double the speed, it must also address existing workforce needs and ensure its workers are safe."
A recent article in The Verge pointed to an automated system that tracks employee productivity levels and has resulted in employees being fired. Amazon said the automated system measuring productivity simply makes recommendations. "There is always a manager" involved in the decision-making process, Anderson said.
The system uses machine learning to let managers know if an associate is trending with their peer group. This associate then goes through coaching to try and improve their productivity, he said.
So while associates may be faced with tough targets, these won't be changing as the result of one-day shipping's expansion.
"From a rate expectation and a performance expectation, there hasn’t been any change for the associates," Anderson said.