Amazon reportedly hopes to to double its delivery fleet this year by investing in smaller trucking companies that would exclusively serve the e-commerce giant

  • Amazon is reportedly launching an incubator to groom hundreds of aspiring truck drivers.
  • The drivers would be required to only transport for Amazon and wouldn’t be able to set their rates.
  • Amazon is working to grow a fleet of its own cars, planes, and boats to deliver orders.
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Amazon is planning to launch an “Amazon Freight Partners” program to help train delivery upstarts that would, in turn, join Amazon’s fleet of exclusive delivery partners, per a new report from The Information.

The e-commerce giant continues to grapple with high freight volumes, and it has struggled to partner with enough delivery partners to meet that demand.

Amazon plans to expand its trucking fleet to more than double its size this year through the incubator — it currently has about 100 delivery partners and is working to push that number up to 285 by the end of 2021, per the report.

Amazon said in an internal document, viewed by The Information, that the program would include business training for managing 20 to 50 tractor-trailers or commercial trucks, loans for truck costs, and other guidance.

Read more: Amazon quietly rolled out its ‘Uber for trucking’ service to 48 states in a bid to own the booming digital freight brokerage space — and shore up its own supply-chain issues

The participants will be required to work exclusively with Amazon and wouldn’t be able to propose their own rates or routes, according to The Information. They also must have $30,000 in liquid assets to qualify for the program or they can apply for a business loan from Amazon, the report said.

Amazon did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The Amazon Freight Partners program could successfully result in Amazon’s branded semi-trucks ballooning from 1,100 to between 2,280 and 5,700 in total, according to the document viewed by The Information. The 12-week incubator could launch in March, with a more public kick-off later this summer.

Amazon had long been relying on smaller trucking firms to ship their freight instead of large trucking companies until a few months into the pandemic. The lockdowns caused a surge in online consumer shopping, and the company saw a higher volume of orders. So Amazon bucked its norm and began to ask for more service from major trucking companies in September, as Insider’s Rachel Premack reported.

The company has long had sky-high plans for establishing a more robust logistics system, including plans for Amazon’s own vehicles, planes, and ocean freighters to eventually be solely responsible for transporting orders at every mile. It has built up an in-house, middle-mile network of freelance-type truck drivers, who sign on to Amazon via its brokerage app Amazon Relay.

That network is comprised of 13,000 truck drivers, per a 2020 report from the company. Those are the massive 18-wheelers you see on highways and are different from how Amazon delivers packages directly to customers’ homes. 

But truck drivers have taken poorly to Amazon’s rates attached to the loads they pick up via the app. Some told Insider in 2019 that they were hesitant to join in on the company’s Relay platform because the pay was too low.

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