Since 2005, Amazon has been delivering products to its customers by way of its own logistics service appropriately named: Amazon Logistics. The service began as a pilot program more than 10 years ago in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, but has now expanded to San Diego, San Jose, Oakland, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Austin, Phoenix and Philadelphia. With the goal to improve shopper satisfaction and reduce shipping time, Amazon may be falling short of the former.
How Amazon Logistics Works
Amazon Logistics claims to complement established logistics providers—USPS, UPS and FedEx—not replace them. Meaning, the service is there to provide shoppers with an alternative same-day delivery shipping option. The program, however, is only available within Amazon’s designated service areas. Same-day-delivery perks are available for Prime members but non-members can reap the benefits for an added cost. Deliveries are made seven days a week, throughout the day and include early mornings and late evenings, which is ideal for packages that require a signature.
Delivery drivers are treated like third-party service providers who are contracted through Amazon. There is no cost to join the program but Amazon has three basic requirements each company must meet to be considered a delivery provider. They are:
- A company must be an established last-mile business. Meaning the provider is fully licensed and has commercial and automotive insurance, workers’ comp and Cargo Legal Liability.
- A company must have trained and experienced drivers with documented driver safety policies, procedures and training.
- A company must have professional cargo vehicles—meaning at least 5 cargo vans/trucks that can hold at least 200 cubic feet of goods.
Shipments from Amazon Logistics appear in tracking as AMZL_US. Deliveries with this designation are sent to a specific sorting center where contracted companies pick up packages at a nearby facility and deliver the goods to shoppers’ doors. Amazon provides drivers with a mobile application and software they can use to plan, receive route guidance and handle customer service.
What Amazon Logistics Means for Third-Party Sellers
As you know, Amazon is a customer-first company, which means the benefits of Amazon Logistics weren’t intended for third-party sellers. Since Amazon Logistics relies on third-party providers, the level of service offered varies from one provider to another. Whereas, logistics provided by FedEx, UPS and USPS have a standard of service most shoppers are familiar with and expect. But the Amazon Logistics delivery experience can be hit or miss, which is why this service can be problematic for third-party sellers. Shoppers’ experiences with Logistics have been a mixed bag, ranging from over-the-top service to extremely unsatisfactory service.
Whether sellers like it or not, Amazon Logistics is here to stay. The direct-delivery service delivered a little more than 1% of all packages in 2014. It may seem minuscule compared to USPS at 38%, UPS at 32.5%, and FedEx at 7.46% of Amazon package deliveries for the same time period, but it still makes up millions of packages. AMZL_US is comprised of Amazon Lockers, Fresh, Flex, and Prime Air, which are all growing platforms—so this number will be on the rise.
Possible Negative Implications for Sellers
The Seller Feedback score is a massive component of a third-party sellers’ success on Amazon. It contributes into winning the Buy Box and shaping a shopper’s opinion of a seller when faced with multiple options where price isn’t a concern. Mishandled and damaged packages can result in negative seller feedback. Fortunately for third-party merchants using FBA—or those who use Seller-Fulfilled Prime—Amazon will handle customer support and item replacement if a package is lost or damaged. And Amazon’s A-to-z Guarantee Claim protects shoppers who purchase from third-party merchants who fulfill their own products.
Unfortunately, a shopper is more inclined to share negative experiences than positive ones based on frustration and anger. And sellers can’t choose which logistics providers they want to ship their goods. So what is a seller to do?
Sellers Need to Be Proactive
I know this has been said ad nauseum but it’s still important: sellers need to message every shopper at least once. Sellers can mitigate negative feedback and product reviews by simply following up with shoppers. An automated Amazon buyer-seller messaging system is the best way to accomplish this. In the case of mitigating risk due to a negative shipping experience because of Amazon Logistics, requesting seller feedback is the best approach. Here are some effective tips to get quality seller feedback.
- Time your messages effectively. You don’t want your seller feedback message arriving too early or too late. Sending a message when a package has been marked as delivered is the best time because the delivery is most likely at the top of the shopper’s mind.
Amazon Logistics does not give sellers an exact time of delivery. Sellers must use the estimated delivery time to target messages, which is usually within an hour or two of what Amazon projects.
- Give shoppers options. Give the shopper multiple ways to contact you in case there is a problem and to provide a channel to leave seller feedback. Give them a link so they can contact you through Amazon, a link to your Amazon store, a package tracking link, a feedback link and an excellent feedback link.
- Have a single call to action. Calls to action are traditionally located at the bottom of messages, but if you want to skip to the top, add your CTA at the beginning of your message. These kinds of messages are typically designed to receive 5-star seller feedback the quickest way possible.
You can send messages manually through Seller Central’s buyer-seller messaging system, or you can use Feedback Genius to automate all of your messages.
Amazon Logistics is growing every month; we believe the service now delivers approximately 2% of all Amazon packages. Sellers need to utilize every tool available to help them succeed in the ever-changing Amazon marketplace. Proactively messaging shoppers and asking for their feedback and opinions is crucial for succeeding on Amazon.
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