Week in Review: Amazon As Expected Buys Into Air Freight

Ending months of speculation, Amazon announced it has leased 20 Boeing 767 cargo jets from Air Transport Services Group Inc., while at the same time taking a 20% stake in the Wilmington, OH-based company. That is where Amazon has reportedly been running air freight operations from a former DHL facility since the fall.

This move adds significant air transport capacity to what Amazon is now handing off to UPS and FedEx, and thus the ability to control more of its own destiny. One estimate said the leased jets could handle as much as 15% of Amazon’s annual domestic air freight. All parties say it’s business as usual, but the leasing plus the stake signal that Amazon is taking at least a portion of matters into its own hands.

The open question remains as to whether Amazon plans to take this to the next level and create a third-party logistics service, a la Amazon Cloud Services. Another piece of this equation is Amazon’s reported Dragon Boat operation, which observers say will provide logistics including ocean freight between Asia and the U.S.

Here’s a look at more of this week’s news, commentary and events that shaped the direct-to-customer world… and more.

– Introduction written by Mike O’BrienSenior Editor of Multichannel Merchant


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Chargebacks911 says new technologies are fueling a rise in consumer chargebacks.

Target plans to spend $2 to $2.5 billion in capital expenditures a year in omnichannel with a focus on technology and flexible fulfillment.

The North Face plans to launch its own Watson-powered mobile shopping app in April.

Amazon India is planning to launch a digital wallet in an effort to build its online payments business.

Neiman Marcus combated email fraud by teaming up with Return Path, in an effort to enhance customer security and protect the brand from spoofing and phishing attacks.

Saks Fifth Avenue is personalizing the shopping experience by transferring the in-store experience to any channel a customer wants to shop.

Jelly Belly has seen sweet success since switching from a home-grown ecommerce site to cloud-based ecommerce and mobile sites powered by Mozu.


shipping-delivery-75X75FedEx has joined UPS in opposing the proposed merger of the Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern rail systems, citing concerns it would degrade rail service through reduced infrastructure investments.

Postmates, which provides same-day food and everyday goods delivery, has hired a Silicon Valley investment bank that specializes in helping companies find buyers, to ether seek funding or an acquirer, according to Re/code. This is interesting in light of UPS’s recent investment in crowdsourced startup Deliv, which UPS said will help it figure out the same-day model.

UPS is also expanding its Worldwide Express package service to 23 additional countries and territories, bringing the total to 88, while FedEx plans to open a new distribution center outside Dayton, OH.

Amazon plans to open a 1 million-square-foot distribution center near Hinckley, UK. The company is also opening up a new pickup center at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

XPO Logistics is investing $26 million in a regional distribution center in southwest Indiana.

Distribution automation firm Swisslog has unveiled its CarryPick robot at Dubai’s Museum of the Future.


… And more


Tailored Brands announced it will close about 250 stores this fiscal year, including 80 to 90 full-line Jos. A Bank stores, all 49 Jos. A. Bank outlets and all 9 Men’s Wearhouse outlets…

Amazon announced its plans to open a second bookstore at Westfield UTC mall in San Diego this summer, named Amazon books.

Toys “R” Us hired Amy von Walter as its new Executive Vice President, Global Communications and Public Relations.

Varsity Brands announced the appointment of Matthew E. Rubel as its new CEO.

Advance Auto Parts elected Brad W. Buss and Reuben E. Sloane to board of directors

Party City appointed William S. Creekmuir to its board of directors

Elizabeth Arden Inc., announced the appointment of George Cleary as President, Global Fragrances…

Jim McCann is passing the torch to his brother, Chris McCann, at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, and will become Executive Chairman…