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Amazon Fulfillment Center vs Distribution Center

Amazon uses two types of warehouses to make deliveries happen

  • Written by Tess Holman
  • Published on December 4, 2023
  • Time to read 9 minutes

Introduction

If you’ve ever wondered how Amazon gets your orders to your doorstep so quickly, you’re about to find out. Amazon uses two types of warehouses to make this happen, and we’ll discuss the pros and cons of comparing an Amazon fulfillment center vs distribution center. In this blog post, we’ll briefly break down the differences between these two types of facilities so you can better understand how Amazon’s delivery system works.

Fulfillment Centers: Where Your Orders Get Packed

Fulfillment Centers are the places where Amazon packs up and ships your orders. 

Here’s what happens inside a fulfillment center:

1. Storing and Organizing Products

At Fulfillment Centers, Amazon stores all the products it sells. When suppliers send their stuff to Amazon, it goes into these centers. Inside a Fulfillment Center, there’s a place for everything, and everything has its place. Products are neatly arranged on shelves based on their size, weight, and type so that they’re easy to find when someone places an order.

2. Picking and Packing

When you order something, it must be sent straight from the supplier to your door. Instead, Amazon employees in Fulfillment Centers pick the items you want from the shelves and put them in a box. This process is like grocery shopping for your order. Once everything is in the box, it will be shipped to you.

3. Shipping and Delivery

After your order is packed, it’s ready to head your way. Amazon works with different delivery companies, like UPS and FedEx, to bring your package to your doorstep. Fulfillment Centers are essential in ensuring your order gets to you quickly and in good shape.

4. Handling Returns

Sometimes, you might need to send something back to Amazon. When you do, it goes back to the Fulfillment Center. They check it out to see if it’s still in good condition. Depending on its condition, it might get restocked, fixed up, or properly disposed of.

 A graphic illustration shows a package moving through a distribution center, on to a fulfillment center, and finally to the customer.

Distribution Centers: The Starting Point of Amazon’s Journey

Distribution Centers are like the starting point of Amazon’s shipping journey. Here’s what they do:

1. Receiving and Sorting

When suppliers’ products arrive at Amazon, they go to a Distribution Center. At the Distribution Center, workers check everything that comes in and sort it out. They organize the products based on where they need to go next. This helps everything move smoothly through the shipping process.

2. Big Storage

Unlike Fulfillment centers, which only hold products for a short time, Distribution Centers keep products for longer periods. They’re like big storage units for Amazon. This way, they can store many products and send them to different Fulfillment Centers as needed.

3. Quick Transfers

One of the essential jobs of Distribution Centers is to move products quickly. When inventory comes into a Distribution Center, it only sits around briefly. It’s moved onto trucks headed to different Fulfillment Centers. This quick transfer helps get your order to you faster.

4. Keeping Stock in Check

Distribution Centers help ensure Amazon has enough of each product in the right place. They keep an eye on what’s selling and where. This way, there’s always enough of the things you want in stock at the nearest Fulfillment Center.

Main Differences Between Fulfillment Centers and Distribution Centers

Main Differences

Now, let’s sum up the significant differences between Fulfillment Centers and Distribution Centers:

1. What They Do in the Process:

  • Fulfillment Centers are where Amazon packs and ships your orders to your door.
  • Distribution Centers are the first stop where products are received, sorted, and sent to different Fulfillment Centers.

2. How Long Things Stay There:

  • Fulfillment Centers hold products for a short time until they’re shipped out.
  • Distribution Centers keep products for extended periods, serving as large storage units.

3. Their Role in Shipping:

  • Fulfillment Centers are all about getting your orders ready for delivery.
  • Distribution Centers focus on moving products quickly to where they’re needed in the Amazon system.

4. Where They’re Located:

  • Fulfillment Centers are near you to make the final delivery quick.
  • Distribution Centers are strategically placed to send products to Fulfillment Centers across a wider area.

Conclusion

Understanding the differences between an Amazon fulfillment center vs distribution center and how they work together is like uncovering the secret behind Amazon’s speedy deliveries. Next time you click “Order Now” on Amazon, you can appreciate the teamwork between these two types of warehouses that makes it all happen. The efficient coordination between Fulfillment Centers and Distribution Centers ensures your packages arrive on time, making Amazon’s delivery system something to marvel at.

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