How many Amazon packages are delivered each year?

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Anne Goodchild, University of Washington and Rishi Verma, University of Washington

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How many Amazon packages are delivered each year? – Aya K., 9, Illinois


It’s incredibly convenient to buy something online, right from your computer or phone. Whether it’s a high-end telescope or a toothpaste restock, the merchandise shows up at your doorstep. This type of shopping is called “e-commerce” and is becoming more and more popular every year. In the United States, it has grown from just 7% of retail purchases in 2012 to 19.6% of retail and $791.7 billion in sales in 2020.

Amazon’s Growing Reach

For Amazon, the biggest e-commerce player, that means delivering lots of packages. In 2021, the company shipped around 7.7 billion packages globally, based on its sales of nearly $470 billion.

If each of these packages were a 1-foot square box and they were stacked on top of each other, the stack would be six times higher than the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Put end to end, they would circle the Earth 62 times.

In the early 2010s, most items purchased on Amazon.com were shipped by a third-party carrier like FedEx or UPS. In 2014, however, Amazon began delivering packages itself with a service called “Fulfilled by Amazon.” That’s when those blue delivery vans started showing up on local streets.

Since then, Amazon’s logistics arm has gone from relying entirely on other carriers to shipping 22% of all packages to the United States in 2021. That’s higher than FedEx’s 19% market share. and within striking distance of 24% UPS. Amazon’s multi-channel fulfillment service allows other websites to use its warehousing and shipping services. So your order on Etsy or eBay could also be packed and shipped by Amazon.

Amazon has come to dominate online shopping by offering free two-day shipping to Amazon Prime members.

The supply chain

To handle so many packages, shipping companies need a large network of manufacturers, vehicles and warehouses that can coordinate with each other. This is called the supply chain. If you’ve ever used a tracking number to track a package, you’ve seen it in action.

The people who decide where to send vehicles and how to deliver packages are constantly trying to cut costs while getting packages to customers on time. The supply chain can do this very effectively, but it also has drawbacks.

More delivery vehicles on the road produce more greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, as well as pollutants like nitrogen oxides and particulates that are dangerous to breathe. Traffic jams are also a major concern in cities, as delivery drivers try to park on busy streets.

Urban Freight Solutions

Are there ways to balance the increasing number of deliveries while making freight safe, sustainable and fast? At the University of Washington Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center, we work with companies like Amazon and UPS and others in the shipping, transportation, and real estate industries to meet to questions like this. Here are some solutions for what we and our colleagues call the “last mile,” the last leg of a package’s long journey to your doorstep.

– Electrification: the transition from gasoline and diesel vehicles to fleets of electric vehicles or other zero-emission vehicles reduces pollution from delivery trucks. Tax credits and local policies, such as the creation of so-called green loading zones and zero-emission zones for clean vehicles, are encouraging companies to make the switch.

– Public Carrier Lockers: Buildings can install lockers at central locations, such as busy transit stops, so drivers can drop off packages without driving to your door. When you’re ready to pick up your items, just stop by at a time that’s convenient for you. This both reduces delivery truck mileage and the risk of packages being stolen off porches.

– Cargo bikes: Businesses can eliminate the delivery truck from the equation and use electric cargo bikes to drop off small packages. In addition to being zero emissions, cargo bikes are relatively inexpensive and easy to park, and they offer a healthier alternative for delivery people.

To learn more about supply chains and delivery logistics, check with your city’s transportation department to see if they’re testing or already have goods delivery programs or policies, like those in New York and Seattle. And the next time you order something for delivery, consider your options for receiving it, like walking or biking to a parcel locker or pickup point, or consolidating your items into one delivery.

Parcel delivery can be both convenient and sustainable if businesses continue to evolve their supply chains and everyone thinks about how they want delivery to work in their neighborhood.


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Anne Goodchild, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director, Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center, University of Washington and Rishi Verma, industrial engineering PhD student and research assistant, Urban Freight Lab, University of Washington

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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