Along with the typical fare of drab rest stops and wireless towers dressed up like pine trees, expect to spot a new sight along the highway soon: Amazon tractor trailers.
The Seattle-based e-commerce giant said Friday that it will start rolling out thousands of Amazon-branded trailers across the US for the first time to help ship the company's inventory. Amazon will own only the trailer part of the trucks, leaving third-party trucking companies to supply the actual trucks and drivers.
Amazon's latest dip into the physical world should reduce the time it takes for that latest gadget or jacket to arrive at your doorstep, and push back the cut-off times for how late you can order same-day or two-day deliveries. While these trucks won't be used to ship directly to consumers, they should give Amazon more control of its shipping network.
The company invested in the new trailers to help it keep pace with its ever growing order volumes, an Amazon spokeswoman said. The new trailers will be used to shuttle goods between Amazon's warehouses, as well as move items to delivery stations and sorting facilities along the way to arriving at their final destinations. The Amazon spokeswoman added that the company will continue to use the US Postal Service, United Parcel Service and FedEx, as well as midsize and regional carriers, to help it ship goods.
That said, Amazon continues to build out its own shipping network so it can have more flexibility in making deliveries and keep speeding up shipments. That network may one day rival those of UPS and FedEx, but for now Amazon continues to rely heavily on outside companies to help it deliver its millions of packages.
In addition to the new trailers, Amazon already uses its own branded trucks for shipments with its AmazonFresh grocery deliveries and Prime Now rapid-deliveries service in some US cities.
The new trailers were unveiled at an event in Chicago, where Amazon employees packed 2,000 care packages into one of them. Those packages will be headed to US troops abroad who aren't able to come home for the holidays.
"I couldn't be more pleased that our very first Amazon trailer headed out on the road carrying such special packages," Mike Roth, Amazon's vice president of North America Operations, said in a statement Friday.