"There's no question that Amazon is by far the strongest company in e-commerce in distribution," said Marc Wulfraat, the founder and president of logistics consulting firm MWPVL International. Wulfraat works with many retailers who are trying to catch up to Amazon online.
"They are the leader of speed to market," he said, referring to Amazon's incredibly fast shipping. "This is causing an unprecedented level of retail disruption. Amazon threw a real monkey wrench into the works, and this is causing a tremendous amount of chaos."
Amazon is the "ultimate gross margin killer -- of everyone else's margins," said TheStreet's Jim Cramer, Portfolio Manager of the Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio, in a speech on 'anointed' stocks to add to your portfolio in 2016.
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These 8 maps and charts from MWPVL International demonstrate just how incredible Amazon's delivery muscle really is.
This graph simply shows Amazon's massive growth since its inception, but as the number of sales increases, it requires a heightened level of logistics capabilities to move all those orders.
To keep up with the huge growth in sales, Amazon has been rapidly building new fulfillment and sortation centers, the latter of which it started building in 2013 in order to gain more control of the last-mile delivery process. In Amazon's system now, orders move from fulfillment centers to smaller sortation centers, where they are sorted into zip codes and shipped out to consumers. Consider that Target (TGT) will only have five dedicated fulfillment centers by the end of 2015 and Home Depot (HD) has three, although it's important to note that Target and Home Depot also have the ability to ship directly from their brick-and-mortar stores.
Another way to demonstrate Amazon's increase in fulfillment and sortation centers is to look at the astonishing increase in square footage those centers now take up. For comparison, Walmart (WMT) 's 10 distribution centers currently comprise 10.7 million square feet, about where Amazon was five years ago, although Walmart also uses 83 of its brick-and-mortar stores as quasi-fulfillment centers on top of that.
The map above shows how Amazon's various types of fulfillment and sortation centers are spread out around the country.
Wulfraat said Amazon's build-out of its sortation centers is "their way of setting up their own UPS service almost."
Amazon can now reach nearly 95 million people, or 26.9% of the population in the U.S. and Canada, for same-day shipping. Wulfraat said he can see that reaching 32% by the end of 2015 and eventually, as much as 40%-50% of the population. By comparison, Google (GOOG) only reaches 7 million people with its same day delivery service, Google Express.
Amazon can now reach 21.6% of the population in the U.S. and Canada with one-hour shipping through its Prime Now service. Amazon stocks up hubs near the center of cities like New York City, where its hub is right by Penn Station, with the products people order most frequently so that it can get them to consumers as quickly as possible.
On top of building more fulfillment centers, Amazon is also making those centers smarter and more efficient by automating them with robots that can process orders in as little as 15 minutes.The chart above shows that these Kiva robots can cut Amazon's labor costs in half compared to using human workers. As of the end of 2014, Amazon had deployed 30,000 Kiva robots across 10 fulfillment centers.