Amazon on Wednesday unveiled its shipping cutoff times for this year's holiday season, with the company using its growing footprint of stores and service to extend its sales right up to Christmas.
The e-commerce giant has worked over the past six years to ramp up its own shipping and logistics capabilities. That work was sparked in part by an embarrassing holiday season in 2013 when a surge of last-minute shopping overwhelmed UPS' network and caused a rash of delayed shipments that didn't arrive in time for Christmas. Amazon was forced to offer $20 gift cards and refunds to affected customers.
Now Amazon's expanded logistics network includes a fleet of its own planes, thousands of truck trailers and a network of independent local delivery operators. Added to that, Amazon now owns Whole Foods, which has over 500 locations, and has opened 30 Amazon 4-star and Amazon Books stores. It's also spending heavily to shift its two-day Prime delivery service to just one day, with millions of items already available for next-day shipping.
That work should help the company avoid a repeat of 2013, though it's also worrying Amazon's shipping partners that the company is quickly becoming a direct competitor.
So far this holiday season, deliveries appear to be moving smoothly. Amazon executive Dave Clark, who oversees shipping and logistics, tweeted earlier this month that some shipments were "briefly impacted" by bad weather, adding "but we quickly re-balanced capacity and it's all systems go now."
For free delivery before Christmas, here are the dates Amazon announced Wednesday. Items purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 are eligible for returns until Jan. 31:
- Dec. 14: Last day for non-Prime customers to make purchases and get free delivery on orders over $25.
- Dec. 18: Last day for Prime customers to order items eligible for free Standard Shipping.
- Dec. 22: Last day for Prime customers to order tens of millions of items.
- Dec. 23: Last day for Prime customers to order items eligible for
- Dec. 24: Last day for Prime customers to order millions of items eligible for Same-Day Delivery. Order minimums of $35 are required and purchases must be made by 9:30 a.m. local time.
- Dec. 24: Last day for free two-hour grocery delivery, only for Prime members in select cities. Order by 5 p.m. local time (3 p.m. in select locations) for Whole Foods Market and 8 p.m. local time for Amazon Fresh.
- Dec. 24: Whole Foods Market stores, Amazon Books, and Amazon 4-star stores are open Christmas Eve (store hours vary by location).
- Dec. 25: Amazon Gift Cards and Amazon Prime subscriptions available for purchase online