Most cargo ships putting into the port of Everett, Wash., brim with cement and lumber. So when the Olive Bay docked in early November, it was clear this was no ordinary shipment.
Below decks was rolled steel bound for Vancouver, British Columbia, and piled on top were 181 containers emblazoned with the Amazon logo.Some were empty and immediately used to shuffle inventory among the company’s warehouses.
In addition to chartering ships such as the Olive Bay, Amazon hired 150,000 U.S. seasonal workers to help pick, pack and ship items, boosting pay and offering signing bonuses of up to $3,000. It’s dispatching half-full trucks to get packages to customers on time. The logistical effort’s projected $4 billion cost threatens to wipe out the company’s profit during its most important three months of the year. But for Amazon, which burnished its reputation serving as a lifeline during the COVID-19 outbreak, the holiday season is an opportunity to extend its advantage over rivals.
If the company succeeds in meeting its promises to customers this year, that will be thanks to Amazon-chartered ships taking products from factories in Asia, Amazon Air cargo jets crisscrossing the U.S., Amazon-branded vans departing from hundreds of local delivery depots and the hundreds of thousands of employees and contractors at each step along the way.