By Land, Air And Sea? Amazon’s Next Voyage

The modes of transport for getting Amazon’s goods from point A to point B run the gamut from planes, trains, autos and drones. Ships may not be far behind, according to Re/code.

The site reported Thursday (Jan. 14) that the online retailer’s China unit has registered within the United States to operate in part as an ocean freight forwarder. That means the subsidiary can help organize the shipment of cargo from a supplier in a region to a customer in another region. Re/code said the application had been disclosed by Flexport, a San Francisco logistics startup that announced the news via its blog. In its post, the startup said: “Amazon China now has the appropriate paperwork to provide ocean freight services for other companies. This is Amazon’s first step toward entering the $350 billion ocean freight market.”

The filing, which came on Nov. 13, with the Federal Maritime Commission would represent a new tack by Amazon to broaden its reach across a customer’s experience — from initial online checkout to delivery. The benefit to Amazon would also come through a better leash on shipping costs. Flexport, for its part, said that the company has enough competitive advantage that would help it leapfrog into shipping via automation, and it would be able to shave labor costs. The Amazon filing seeks registration as a non-vessel operating common carrier, which means that it buys space to carry cargo on a third-party ship at a wholesale price and then can sell that same space to a manufacturer or other customer for a retail price.

[bctt tweet=”The benefit to Amazon would also come through a better leash on shipping costs.”]

Re/code also said that an ocean option for Amazon might work similarly to the Fulfillment by Amazon warehousing business, which helps get goods from sellers based in China to Amazon-owned warehouses. As has been previously noted, third-party business has claimed nearly half of all goods that are sold via Amazon around the world.