Forget Whole Foods. Here’s why Amazon’s competitors should worry

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Forget Whole Foods. Here’s why Amazon’s competitors should worry

By Mike Troy - 09/06/2017

Sure, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is a big deal, but the bigger concern is the astonishing pace of supply chain infrastructure expansion.

Since the beginning of the year, Amazon has announced 20 new fulfillment centers and a $1.5 billion air sortation hub in Kentucky. The fulfillment centers give Amazon about 18,000 million square feet of new distribution capacity as they come online near major population centers. The massive new air logistics facility near Cincinnati is home to the company’s Prime Air fleet of cargo planes.

These expanding supply chain capabilities, made public in a series of announcements over the course of the year, are easy to overlook amid the buzz about Whole Foods. However, taken collectively the supply chain projects are more troubling from a competitive standpoint because they enable Amazon to achieve ever faster deliveries at a time when rivals are wrestling with omnichannel basics such as in-store pickup or ship from store.

Here’s a look at where Amazon is planning to opening new facilities and when the announcements were made:

September 6: Staten Island, N.Y., is revealed as the location of Amazon’s first fulfillment center in New York. The 855,000-sq.-ft. facility is expected to create 2,250 full-time jobs. An opening date was not provided, but since construction is already underway a mid to late 2018 opening is feasible.

August 28: Amazon announced plans to open a 1 million-sq.-ft. fulfillment center in Salem, Ore., its second in the state. The facility will have 1,000 employees and focus on larger products such as sporting goods, gardening tools and pet food.

August 25: The changing nature of the retail industry was underscored by the location of Amazon’s third fulfillment center in Ohio. An 855,000-sq.-ft. facility focused on items such as electronics, toys and books planned for the Cleveland suburb of North Randall will occupy real estate once home to an enclosed shopping mall that was the nation’s largest when it opened in the 70’s. The fulfillment center will employ more than 2,000 workers and joins similar facilities in Etna and Obetz.

July 27: Plans are revealed for Amazon’s second Michigan fulfillment center in the town of Romulus. The 855,000-sq.-ft. facility will employee more than 1,500 people and is focused on books, electronics and toys.

July 10: An 850,000-sq.-ft. fulfillment center planned for the Lake Nona area near Orlando will create 1,500 jobs and ship items such as books, electronics and consumer goods. Amazon opened its first fulfillment center in Florida in 2013.

July 5: Salt Lake City is revealed as the location of Amazon’s first fulfillment center in Utah. At a familiar size of 855,000-sq.-ft., the facility will employ more than 1,500 works and ship smaller items such as books, electronic and toys.

June 12: The Denver suburb of Thornton is announced as the location of Amazon’s second Colorado fulfillment center. Plans call for the 855,000-sq.-ft. facility to employ 1,500 people.

June 8: Another 855,000-sq.-ft. fulfillment center employing 1,500 workers is announced for North Haven, Conn. The facility joins similar centers in Wallingford and Windsor.

June 7: Amazon announced two fulfillment center locations on the same day on opposite sides of the country. Troutdale, Ore., is identified as the home of Amazon’s first fulfillment center in Oregon. The company said books, electronics and toys would be shipped from the 855,000-sq.-ft. facility expected to employ 1,500 people. Miami was chosen as the location for an 800,000-sq.-ft. facility with more than 1,000 jobs.

June 2: Another new fulfillment center location is revealed in Fresno, Calif., giving Amazon five such facilities in California’s central valley. The 855,000-sq.-ft. center will focus on smaller items.

June 1: Amazon announced plans for an 850,000-sq.-ft. fulfillment center in Jeffferson, Ga. For larger items with more than 1,000 employees.

April 21: Amazon scored a triple in New Jersey when it announced plans for three locations in Cranbury Township, Edison and Logan Township measuring 900,000, one million and 900,000 square feet, respectively. Combined, the facilities will employ roughly 2,500 workers.

March 29: Amazon announced plans to open its tenth Texas fulfillment center in the Houston suburb of Katy. The 1 million-sq.-ft. facility focused on larger items joins two other locations in Coppell.

March 28: Amazon announced plans to open a 1 million-sq.-ft. fulfillment center in Clear Brook, Va., with more than 1,000 employees to handle large items such as televisions, kayaks and patio furniture.

January 31: An area near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport was chosen as the home for Amazon’s $1.5 billion centralized air hub to accommodate the expanding Prime Air fleet. The prior year, Amazon announced lease deals with two carriers involving 40 dedicated cargo planes. The new facility will handle the unloading, sortation and loading of cargo planes.

January 23: Plans are announced for Amazon’s first fulfillment center in Colorado. The Denver suburb of Thornton is named as home to a 1 million-sq.-ft. center designed to handle larger items such as sports equipment, musical instruments and furniture.

January 18: The northwest Dallas suburb of Coppell is identified as the location of a 1-million-sq.-ft. fulfillment center, employing more than 1,000 people to handle smaller items.

January 17: One of Amazon’s largest fulfillment centers, a 1.2 million-sq.-ft. facility, is announced for North East, Md.

January 4: Amazon announced a new 1 million-sq.-ft. fulfillment center in Jacksonville, Fla., to handle large items. The location is Amazon’s second in the northeastern Florida city and the announcement came just six months after the first facility was announced.