You might think that your latest Amazon purchase comes to you through a warehouse nearby—but which one, exactly? The answer depends on what you ordered. A variety of different building types come into play as Amazon sorts, packs, and ships as many as 20 million items in a day. From sort centers to delivery stations, here’s a rundown of what takes place inside each facility.
- Sortable Fulfillment Centers: Approximately 800,000 square feet in size, each of these buildings employs more than 1,500 full-time associates. Here, Amazon associates pick, pack, and ship customer orders such as books, toys, and housewares. Thanks to the innovations of Amazon Robotics, associates often work alongside robots, allowing them to learn new skills and helping create a more efficient process to meet customer demand.
- Non-sortable fulfillment centers: Ranging in size from 600,000 to 1 million square feet, these structures employ more than 1,000 full-time associates. In these centers, associates pick, pack, and ship bulky or larger-sized customer items such as patio furniture, outdoor equipment, or rugs.
- Sortation centers: At sort centers, customer orders are sorted by final destination and then consolidated onto trucks for faster delivery. Amazon’s sort center network powers the company’s ability to provide customers with everyday delivery, including Sunday delivery, which customers love.
- Receive centers: If you ordered a staple item like toilet paper or a popular toy, it's likely waiting at one of these facilities. Receive centers take in large orders of top-selling inventory and for distribution throughout the network. This way, rather than making deposits at multiple fulfillment centers, a vendor can drop off inventory at a receive center, and it will be distributed from there. Every bit as technologically advanced as Amazon’s other building types, receive centers allow associates to work alongside innovations such as robotic palletizers that make the work more efficient for associates by lifting batches of inventory onto pallets for wrapping.
- Delivery stations: In these buildings, Amazon.com orders are prepared for last-mile delivery to a customers’ door. Amazon works with Delivery Service Partners to enable fast, everyday shipping, efforts the company uses along with algorithms, robotics, machine learning, and other technological innovations to increase shipping capacity and delivery speeds for customers.
- Specialty facilities: Amazon’s fulfillment network is supported by additional types of buildings that handle specific categories of items or are pressed into service at peak times of the year such as the holiday season.
Interested in seeing one of these facilities in action? Visitors are invited to tour one of Amazon’s more than 100 operating fulfillment centers in North America. Learn more about scheduling a tour here.