Joining Birmingham, London, and Newcastle, Amazon shoppers in and around Manchester are now able to get one-hour delivery via the online retail giant’s Prime Now service.
Orders placed as late as 9:45pm on Christmas Eve are eligible for Prime Now delivery, although in some postcode areas it operates as a two-hour delivery. Outlying parts of the Manchester conurbation, including Bolton, Eccles, Oldham, Salford, Stockport, Warrington, and Wigan are also covered by the service, which puts shoppers within as little as one-hour’s reach of more than 15,000 items.
Chris North, managing director of Amazon.co.uk, said: “We’re thrilled to expand our one-hour delivery service to Manchester, our latest Prime Now city.
“Prime Now has proved immensely popular in the cities that already have the service and we think that customers in Manchester and the surrounding areas will love it. We expect to see many last minute Christmas gifts ordered through Prime Now between now and the late hours of Christmas Eve.”
Prime Now is made available through Amazon Logistics which empowers independent local, regional and national delivery companies across the UK to deliver Amazon parcels to customers seven days a week. Deliveries will be made from the Amazon Logistics’ delivery station in Wardley.
The continuing expansion of Amazon Logistics has prompted reports that retailers selling via Prime will have to agree to use Amazon Logistics for fulfilment in the New Year, as reported by eDelivery’s colleagues over on Tamebay. Earlier this year, Tamebay also reported how Amazon had parted company with Collect+ as a collection outlet, although returns can still be processed through Collect+.
Although speculation is rife in the carrier sector, little concrete is known of Amazon’s intentions with regard to ongoing relationships with carriers and how that might affect any plans to insist larger retailers eschew their own carriers in favour of Amazon Logistics.
One source eDelivery spoke to said that Amazon faces “natural capacity issues” despite its impressive size and that it will continue to rely heavily on carrier partners for the foreseeable future.
Patrick Gallagher, CEO of same-day delivery specialist CitySprint echoed that point: “The biggest challenge Amazon now face is the question of balance. There is a fine line to walk between the need for partners during peak times, and maintaining your competitive edge in the retail industry.”
Another source we spoke to questioned retailers’ willingness to accept the change Amazon might be about to try to push through.
Liam Chennels, head of consumer experience at Shutl, raised the question of integration as another hurdle Amazon would need to clear: “System integration is one of the biggest challenges with innovative fulfilment technology. It is the reason that the Shutl team is made up of over 50% technical engineering staff. Until we know more about what the Amazon integration will look like, it is difficult to predict the success of this initiative. One thing is for sure, it will have a big influence in its success.”
Andrew Hill, commercial director at Electio, pointed out that while Amazon might be in a dominant position now that might not always be the case: “As it stands today, Amazon Logistics is good news for Amazon. As a monopoly, the global giant could choose to charge a premium and no-one could do much about it. Plus anything that Amazon touches normally turns to gold. But it’s unusual for one brand to remain dominant indefinitely and a wave of retailer backlash may threaten to topple Amazon’s crown at some point in the future.”
The eDelivery view:
Amazon’s ambition to grow in the logistics field is no secret, and its network of DCs and warehouses is well placed to make inroads into many high population density areas. Whether it can match that ambition with superlative service in more remote areas is another matter, of course. Compared with the likes of Royal Mail and Yodel, both of whom stand to lose out as a result of a systematic shift of volume from carriers, Amazon currently lacks reach. That is unlikely to still be true a few years from now, and should it decide to dip into its war chest to see this ambition through, it’s even less likely. Carriers may find themselves losing volume in cities and towns, to be left with higher-cost rural business from Amazon during a protracted hand-over period; they’ll expect to be paid more for that. On the surface that has the potential to increase the cost-base for, and therefore undermine the return on, investing in Amazon Logistics.
But with its track record of being an agent of change and disruption, coupled with an apparent willingness to invest heavily over a longer term period, we may be witnessing the first steps of a strategy that will take years to unfold, but which could end up with Amazon Logistics not only dominating local markets, but elevating itself to the level of DHL, FedEx, and UPS.
Main image – Manchester Ship Canal, Salford Quays. Copyright David Dixon.