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Amazon’s launch a year ago of its Prime Air service seemed like something out of a William Gibson sci-fi novel. Shipping to consumers via aircraft drones? So we were startled to discover the identity of the company’s recent partner to speed delivery this past Christmas: the U.S. Postal Service!
Turns out the paradigm of 21st century e-commerce sought out the symbol of mail’s bygone era to help with Sunday shipping. Amazon also added seven additional sorting centers from which pre-boxed and labeled packages could be sent by truck to regional post offices.
Little did we suspect, when placing our last-minute pre-holiday Amazon order for hot pink ice skates for our 5-year-old daughter, who else was in the loop. In fact, it was the first time in its 240-year history that the post office was open for business on Sunday.
New and old players teaming up is just one twist in today’s logistics environment. Moving boxes from point A to point B no longer happens in a straight line. Thanks to multiplex shopping options, manufacturers must follow customers wherever they order products—via stores, or online using tablets and phones.
Randy Schwimmer shares his perspectives in MidPoints each issue. A former member of senior management and investment committees for two leading middle-market debt platforms, he is also founder and publisher of The Lead Left, a weekly newsletter about deals and trends in the capital markets.