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Amazon’s Massive Distribution Network in One Giant Visualization

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Amazon's Massive Distribution Network in One Giant Visualization

Amazon’s Massive Distribution Network in One Visualization

View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.

Last year, Amazon shipped over 5 billion (with a “B”) Prime packages, and the retail giant’s ecommerce market share in the U.S. is on the verge of surpassing 50%.

Moving that kind of volume takes an impressive amount of technical sophistication, manpower, and distribution infrastructure. While Amazon does lean on third parties for deliveries and warehousing, the company is also building an increasingly expansive distribution network in an attempt to manage the entire process.

Today’s visualization, which uses comprehensive data from MWPVL International, examines the estimated 124 million square feet of active space in the U.S., as well as the 40 million in Amazon’s construction pipeline.

To create our graphical footprint of Amazon’s warehouses in the infographic, we’ve used satellite imagery of every Amazon facility in the U.S. and stitched it all together.

Pieces of the Puzzle

There are a few types of facilities that make up the vast network of Amazon’s warehouses:

Crossdock Centers
Containers from foreign vendors can be held at a crossdock facility until more stock is needed at the fulfillment center. This is the back-end of the distribution chain.

Fulfillment Centers
Fulfillment centers are the most common type of facility in Amazon’s distribution empire, but they serve a wide variety of purposes.

Amazon began building its distribution network in 1997, starting with two fulfillment centers in Seattle and Delaware. The two spaces would be tiny compared to today’s standards at 93,000 and 202,000 square feet, respectively. Now, there is nearly 100 million square feet of active fulfillment center space, with another 35 million on the way.

Sortation Centers
These facilities are responsible for sorting packages by zip code which are then typically delivered to USPS sites. Since being introduced in 2014, sortation centers have allowed Amazon to speed up the delivery process and to help control the distribution process up to “the last mile”.

Delivery Stations
In urban areas, delivery stations are often the last step in the chain before packages reach a customer. Courier companies – and increasingly Amazon Flex drivers – typically handle these short-range deliveries. These stations are often located near airports.

Prime Now Hubs
These smaller locations are specifically designed for speed. Prime Now hubs carry a more limited selection of items – including Whole Foods inventory – that are delivered within two hours of clicking “buy”. There are currently around 50 of these facilities in urban areas around the United States, but that number is expected to increase dramatically in the near future.

Prime Air Hub
Amazon doesn’t own its own airport yet, but the recently announced $1.5B international Prime Air Hub is a step in that direction.

The 210-acre parcels will help Amazon expand its Prime Air fleet while reducing its reliance on companies like UPS and FedEx. Kentucky is a natural choice for the hub as there are already 11 fulfillment centers in the state.

Fighting for the Last Mile

Over the years, Amazon has optimized every aspect of the distribution system, but one final hurdle remains.

Conquering the last mile – the final leg before a package reaches its destination – has proven tricky, in part because USPS already has a well-honed strategy for delivering to all the nation’s residents.

The company’s earnest recruitment drive for Amazon Flex is the latest in a long line of attempts to decrease reliance on third parties for package delivery. Also, by tapping into on-demand labor, Amazon hopes to reduce costs and have more flexibility during volume surges like Black Friday.

This desire to own the entire process is being reflected in the company’s roster of distribution facilities. The massive fulfillment centers aren’t going anywhere, but we may see a lot more smaller delivery hubs in cities and towns across America.

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The Fight for Smart Speaker Market Share

Tech brands are betting that the future of personal computing will be driven by the sound of your voice, and the fight for smart speaker market share is heating up.

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smart speaker market share-pev

Tech companies are betting that the future of personal computing will be driven by the sound of your voice.

If they’re right, this early stage of smart speaker adoption will have a massive impact on future profits. Switching smartphone brands is relatively straightforward, but switching an entire voice assistant ecosystem? That’s not quite as easy.

Voice Assistants like Siri and Alexa will transform behavior inside the home. At the center of that behavior is a smart speaker, serving as the hub of a connected lifestyle.

– Andy Chambers, Vice President of Connected Home, Assurant

Today’s infographic is an overview of the rapidly expanding smart speaker market, and how the major players in the space are competing for critical early market share.

smart speaker market share

Moving towards Majority

Adoption of smart speakers really began to gain traction with consumers in 2018, when the percentage of American adults with such a device passed the 20% mark. Today, the U.S. adoption rate sits at about 25%, and by 2022, it’s expected to more than double to 55%.

In just one year, China’s global share of the smart speaker market went from almost zero to 30%, and the country’s smart home market was valued at over $7 billion. Companies like Baidu and Alibaba are fighting their own battle for domestic market share.

Amazon’s Head Start

It has now been almost five years since Amazon announced Alexa and the Echo to the world, kicking off the age of the smart speaker.

The sting of Amazon’s failed foray into the smartphone market was still fresh, and the initial reaction to a device listening inside the home was mixed. That said, Amazon’s huge built-in customer base and two-year head start was enough to bag a hefty portion of the smart speaker market. Now, other brands are playing catch-up.

Here’s a look at U.S. smart speaker market share by device:

CompanyDeviceVoice AssistantMarket Share
AmazonEcho DotAlexa31.4%
AmazonEcho or PlusAlexa23.2%
GoogleHomeGoogle Assistant11.2%
GoogleHome MiniGoogle Assistant11.2%
AmazonEcho SpotAlexa3.5%
AmazonEcho ShowAlexa3.0%
AppleHomePodSiri2.7%
SonosOneAlexa2.2%
GoogleHome HubGoogle Assistant1.2%
GoogleHome MaxGoogle Assistant0.2%

Source

The Fight is Heating Up

Companies are responding to Amazon’s market dominance in different ways.

Apple recently dropped the price of its HomePod smart speaker to $299, a rare price cut for a company that is used to people lining up to buy its products. Unlike its competitors, Apple can’t go all-in on using the device as a “loss leader” to support advertising or e-commerce. HomePod is positioned as a more premium product, but price will be a sticking point for many.

Google, on the other hand, is taking a drastically different approach. The company released the Google Home Mini as a cost effective entry point for consumers looking to try out a voice-directed device.

As well, Google partnered with Spotify to offer Home Minis as a free promotion for Spotify Premium customers. Spotify’s premium userbase is nearly 90 million, so if even a fraction of users take the free offer, a massive influx of Google smart speakers will enter the market.

Over the last year, Amazon saw over 10% of its market share chipped away by competitors, and Google accounted for about half of that loss.

What’s Next? It’s Hard to Say

With the promise of future connected home profits on the line, it’s hard to say what lengths companies will go to outmanoeuver each other. One thing is clear though, the overall smart speaker market is still in the midst of a major growth cycle, and we’re just seeing the beginning of what’s possible with voice-directed devices.

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Walmart Nation: Mapping America’s Biggest Employers

On this map of biggest employers in each state, there’s one regional trend that stands out the most – the broad blue expanse of Walmart country.

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Walmart Nation: Mapping America’s Biggest Employers

In America, approximately 150 million people are currently employed, doing everything from neurosurgery to greeting customers at your local Walmart Supercenter.

While there is a breathtaking variety of jobs out there, a few large-scale organizations stand out as the top employer in each state.

The Largest Employer in Each State

The U.S. is the third most populous country in the world, so it takes a lot of manpower to keep the government running. It’ll come as no surprise that, in most states, either the state or federal government is the top employer. California alone employs a quarter of a million federal workers.

New York State is a unique case as NYC’s municipal workforce is the top employer.

Technically, the largest employer on the planet is the U.S. Department of Defense, and in eight states, there are more active military personnel than any single private employer.

Non-Government Employers

When we exclude direct government and military employment, a few trends emerge. Universities and hospitals – there is often some overlap between the two – are top employers in nearly half of the states.

In a handful of cases, the top employer reflects an industry that is well known in the region. General Motors, for example, is still the top employer in Michigan. In Nevada? MGM Resorts International, with over 55,000 employees.

When it comes to large-scale employment, there’s one regional trend that stands out the most – the broad blue expanse of Walmart country.

Walmart Map: The Biggest Employers in United States
View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.

Walmart Nation

Walmart is the biggest company in the world by revenue, and there are over 3,500 Walmart Supercenters spread around the United States alone. It takes about 1% of private sector workforce in the United States to keep this massive fleet of big box stores running. In Arkansas, that figure jumps up to 4%, with about one-third of the total retail workforce employed at the retail giant.

Here’s a full look at the 21 states where Walmart is the top employer.

State# of Walmart Employees
Texas168,403
Florida107,460
Georgia60,002
Illinois53,687
Arkansas52,367
Ohio50,186
Virginia43,623
Missouri42,029
Tennessee40,598
Indiana39,875
Alabama37,207
Louisiana36,309
Oklahoma32,713
South Carolina32,165
Kentucky29,554
Mississippi24,180
Kansas20,103
West Virginia11,864
New Hampshire7,593
Montana4,861
Wyoming4,648

What About Amazon?

When we talk about the retail industry, it’s impossible to avoid discussing Amazon. The e-commerce company is growing at an impressive clip, and is now the second largest private employer in the country, with over half a million employees.

That said, even with the acquisition of Whole Foods, Amazon still has a long way to go to catch up to Walmart’s massive employee count. The company’s reliance on contract workers and supply chain automation means that this map is unlikely to turn orange in the near future.

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