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Amazon, too, is by sea — online retail giant looks into ocean freight

Why it matters to you

Amazon looks to be increasing its efforts to exercise control over all aspects of the shipping process, potentially creating a new revenue stream.

It’s got planes, it’s got drones, and soon, it looks like Amazon will also have ships. Building upon its ever-expanding arsenal of shipment methods, the online retailer has reportedly taken to the high seas. According to the Wall Street Journal, although Amazon neither owns nor operates ships, it is “openly acting as a global freight forwarder and third-party logistics provider,” which means that it’s booking space on ocean liners and getting inventory between ports and warehouses.

It’s the latest move the Seattle-based company has taken to control all aspects of your order gets from Amazon’s warehouses to your front door. Last year, Amazon leased a fleet of Boeing planes “to ensure air cargo capacity to support one and two-day delivery for customers.” Now, it’s taking another method under its wing. Amazon now handles ocean-based shipments from Chinese merchants and the company has already helped move at least 150 containers of merchandise from the country since October.

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“Amazon has integrated [serveral] services into one basket,” said Steve Ferreira, chief executive of Ocean Audit, a company specializing in ocean freight refund recovery for shippers. These services include sorting, labeling, and tracking shipments — tasks that are generally the responsibility of global freight companies. Amazon’s move, however, bears “a lot of strategic value,” Ferreira added.

As Amazon continues to exercise more oversight over the entirety of the shipping process, it will become much more than a retailer. Instead, it could disrupt the entire deliveries industry and also add a brand new revenue stream to Amazon’s business model. As John Haber, CEO of supply-chain consultancy Spend Management Experts told the Journal, Amazon’s latest decision “is a great example of how Amazon’s expanding its logistical footprint, as well as getting deeper into customers’ supply chains. This is just another cog in the supply chain that they are putting under their control.”