- Amazon announced plans Friday for a fulfillment center in Spokane, Washington, according to a company press release. The highly automated facility will bring over 1,500 full-time jobs, with benefits. The employees will work side-by-side with Amazon Robotics in selecting, packing and shipping products in such categories as games, housewares, school supplies and pet toys.
- The center will open next year near Spokane's airport on an 80-acre site and is Amazon's first distribution center in eastern Washington, the Seattle Times reported. The company has opened or announced more than two dozen such warehouses in the past two years. The facility will have four levels of robotics-assisted processing and storage, an Amazon spokesperson told the newspaper. In total, the building will have a footprint of 600,000 square feet.
- Amazon has been expanding rapidly in Seattle, where it now employs 45,000 people, the Seattle Times said. Another 4,000 work in logistics and distribution facilities in DuPont, Kent and Sumner, Washington. The combined physical footprint of the giant online retailer grew 42% last year to 254 million square feet — 80% of it in warehousing and data centers — and employed 566,000 full- and part-time workers in 2017, up 66% from 2016, CNBC reported.
For an e-commerce company, Amazon occupies a lot of brick-and-mortar space, although the vast majority of it is in warehousing, distribution and other behind-the-scenes tasks like information technology.
The latest fulfillment center will be in Spokane, on the other side of Washington state from its Seattle headquarters, suggesting Amazon is starting to fill in the spaces on its distribution map. It also will allow the company to speed deliveries to more customers in the northwestern states, like Idaho, Montana and northeastern Oregon.
The e-tailer prides itself on fast and free shipping, making fulfillment centers key to its customer service. As a result, the company initiated – and early this year expanded – its FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) Onsite program in which partner merchants use Amazon warehouse management software to ship products from their own locations rather than Amazon facilities.
Nevertheless, Amazon continues to open fulfillment centers across the country, including an 800,000-square-foot facility in Las Vegas, which is expected to be staffed by 1,000 full-time workers.
Amazon could also be cooking up new technologies for its fulfillment centers. Last week, the company was awarded a patent for a robot with arms and grasping capabilities that could toss items into chutes or bins, and an app for truck drivers was recently rolled out to allow them to get in and out of Amazon warehouse facilities more quickly.