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Amazon says its “not developing technology for technology’s sake” in Shoptalk keynote


The US ecommerce giant has used its Shoptalk keynote speech to stress the use of 750,000 mobile robots across 300 of its sites is to improve the customer and employee experience.

Speaking at Shoptalk Europe in Barcelona on 09 May, Stefano Perego, Amazon’s vice president of customer fulfilment & global ops services for North America and Europe, said: “Robotics helps provide the best customer experience, paving the way for broad selection, low prices, fast and convenient delivery.”

He explained that Amazon had also made strides in artificial intelligence, computer vision, and machine learning. Last year it also launched the Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship Programme to re-train people in high-demand fields such as robotics and software engineering.

Employees who have graduated from this free programme have learned new skills and seen pay increases by about 40%. Amazon have also created 700 new categories of jobs since introducing robotics in its fulfilment network, including flow control specialists, Amnesty floor monitors, and reliability maintenance engineers.

Speed of delivery
The introduction of robotic technology is also designed to speed up Amazon’s last mile. Perego explained it has started leveraging large fulfilment centres to move from a national fulfilment network in the US to a regionalised network model. Amazon now places items that it anticipates customers want in the fulfilment centre that’s closest to them. Thanks to these efforts, today, more than 76% of the products US customers order that we fulfil are now from fulfilment centres within their region.

“This approach delivers faster speeds, lowers our cost to serve customers, and reduces our carbon emissions. We’re applying this same logic in Europe at the country level to deliver faster speeds to customers, and greater efficiencies in our operations,” noted Perego.

Over the last three years Amazon has invested in building a Same-Day delivery network in the US, which is available in more than 90 metro areas on hundreds of thousands of items. These sites are located close to the cities they serve, which decreases the distance drivers have to travel to deliver packages to customers and increases delivery speeds.

At these sites, it fulfils, sort and deliver all from one location, within hours of a customer placing an order. The inventory at these sites are specifically tailored to what customers in the area want and need.

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