Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

It's interesting to me that as Amazon and Walmart vertically integrate shipping, FedEx and UPS haven't responded by integrating fulfillment and warehousing.

It's interesting to me that as Amazon and Walmart vertically integrate shipping, FedEx and UPS haven't responded by integrating fulfillment and warehousing.

Actually, UPS does: https://www.ups.com/us/en/services/e-commerce/efulfillment.p...

"UPS eFulfillment combines the fast and reliable shipping consumers demand with the scalable inventory management your operation needs. We can store the products you sell and get them into your customers’ hands quickly. Our eFulfillment platform and bundled pricing helps you manage inventory, orders and costs so you can focus on growing your business."

I've read about that, but I've also heard it's not very competitive. I think part of the problem is that they always use their own shipping, whereas USPS would often be much much cheaper.

Read Uncommon Carriers, by John McPhee, which contains the essay "Out in the Sort" [0]. UPS actually does do some 3rd party fulfillment and warehousing. The essay doesn't go into too much detail, but I get the sense that they're targeting smaller volume, higher margin customers. I further get the sense that they're doing so on the basis of being able to deliver small quantities of an item anywhere in the country ASAP while keeping required inventory levels low (because they do the warehousing near their hub).

N.B. It's a 14 year old article at this point. Things may have changed.

[0] Or if you're a New Yorker subscriber: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/04/18/out-in-the-sor...

Read absolutely ANYTHING by John McPhee! He's the best nonfiction writer alive today, he can make anything into an interesting story. Oranges, canoes, geology, fishing...

Also his book on writing, Draft No. 4.

...people who create wildlife population estimates by cataloging the roadkill in Georgia.

UPS and FedEx are huge in logistics. Their world hubs are surrounded by warehouses


At least UPS does this. We've been offered it by UPS. The rates are insane and are not remotely competitive with Amazon or third-party options... but they exist.

The service is different though. If you use Amazon as your warehouse, on the lower tiers, you just ship inventory and they sort it by SKU .. for all stores! So some supplier could store a bunch of counterfeits with the same SKU, someone orders from your store, and your customer get a counterfeit (even if you've only shipped real products). .. This is one big reason most sex toy manufacturers won't sell to retailers that have Amazon stores.

I'm going to guess UPS keeps warehousing separate per vendor.

Amazon famously doesn’t really sort any of their inventory. It’s more efficient to place inventory randomly.


It also reduces mistakes in picking. It's hard to grab a size medium T-Shirt from the shelf above the larges by mistake if the shelf above the larges has lipstick and spark plug wires on it.

I don't understand this.

You have a product with a UPC. You have a picker with a UPC and a scanner. If the scanner scans the wrong UPC, the picker grabbed the wrong thing.

And yet I get sent the wrong item from Amazon multiple times per year. Ballpark of 1 in 20 orders. And not like I got the wrong order. More like I ordered spicy taco seasoning and receive regular taco seasoning. So a mistake that makes sense if you were matching on titles but why not match on UPCs?

Wow this is one of the most elegant and interesting things I've read in a while. This is absolutely genius. Amazing!

You can choose not to comingle your items. In this case you must relabel them with custom bar codes.

Amazon will only then use your items for your sales and not for anyone elses. Possible longer shipping times, etc. But I s always been possible to ensure correct items on the seller side with FBA.

Interesting, does Amazon do anything for damages when someone buys something thinking it is sold by you and receive a counterfeit?

You can easily use a different SKU if you want to avoid this.

Most people like to use the same SKU to get more exposure on amazon.com though.

Can the counterfeiter just copy your new SKU?


Great point.

If FedEx/UPS were to simply view inventory as packages awaiting an updated shipping address, and outsource a catalog service, they could easily compete.

Good god, if they did that and integrated with Square and Shopify, it would be amazing. I like to think if there are companies out there who knows quite a bit about logistics, it would be UPS and FedEx. Although someone else might need to bring the warehousing expertise.

C'mon XPO Logistics...

XPO Logistics has this service offering. It's called XPO Direct.

https://supplychain.fedex.com Fedex does this. Also in regards to another comment of yours, they also rate shop and use usps and etc.

I know FedEx does both.

They seem to be dinosaurs. If the UPS website is any indication, they're deeply dysfunctional. Mind you, they're both worlds above USPS.

I adore USPS. They are by far the most reliable carrier for last-mile delivery, at least in my city. And they have an added bonus that they can leave smaller packages in my locked mailbox. UPS isn't too bad, to be fair. But FedEx, good riddance. Usually takes two attempts for them to figure out how to get something on my front doorstep.

USPS won't attempt last mile delivery for me, requiring me to drive into town to pick up packages. The other two will deliver to my door.

Post office staff here are surly. UPS and Fedex drivers are bright and friendly.

Obviously it varies by location.

Same here. Rural area. Our mail carriers are contractors nowadays and even getting a properly addressed standard size envelope in my mailbox reliably is near impossible for them.

My experience is the opposite; I always get fedex and ups packages on time, but my local usps branch frequently delivers late and often claims they attempted to deliver a package when I was home and nobody knocked or rang the doorbell.

The primary function of USPS, as far as I can tell, is to deliver spam. For the privilege of occasionally getting useful mail or a package, I have to subsidize USPS by maintaining a box in my yard for them to fill with that spam.

Fwiw, junk mail isn't taxpayer subsidized, they pay a different rate. It's actually a profit center for USPS.

I have to subsidize them by maintaining the box so they can save labor and don't have to walk up to my door to deliver spam.

The spam is a profit center for the USPS, it's what allows them to deliver other mail cheaper than UPS/FedEx.

This must vary by location. My box was purchased initially by the neighborhood but is maintained by the USPS. My mom's house gets walk-up service with mail through a slot. Aside from buying stamps or paying to send a package, I have never directly subsidized USPS infrastructure. Excluding the punitive pension requirements Congress uses to make USPS look like a money pit, they'd probably be profitable.

In more rural areas there are not neighborhood boxes like that. Each person is responsible for an individual box by the road.

It amazes me that the environmental activists haven’t taken this up as an issue yet. The amount of spam I receive is enormous and there’s no way out.

As a Canadian, I greatly prefer USPS as it reaches my door by way of Canada Post.

UPS, FedEx and DHL will leave packages in the open, if they deliver them at all. I work from home, and often they would claim delivery attempt when no such attempt was made. If they do happen to attempt and a signature is required but I am out, the nearest pickup location is an hour away.

Whereas Canada Post always attempts, and if I am out they will leave the package at the nearest post office, which is a short walk away.

Maybe USPS would have more value if it weren't being run into the ground? Canada Post performs reasonably well, after all.

USPS is run like a private company while also having the burden of being a gov entity.

Canada Post is run like a private company while being a Crown Corporation. It makes a small and reasonable profit, and bizarrely, sometimes the Tories try to kill it because it profits.


USPS is a public utility that unreasonable people put for profit expectations on.

USPS is a public utility that unreasonable people in Congress put ridiculous requirements on.

A website is just a public face, it isn’t the product. Fedex has extremely sophisticated systems — they just aren’t written in React with pretty graphic design.

Have you tried, for example, the ebay/UPS integration? It's a disaster. It's expected by their customer support that while the UPS site shows the ebay credentials that they won't work for at least an hour.

Have you interacted with UPS's technical support on anything? They're a disaster, and aside from the example I mentioned have in the past waved off other bugs as being expected.

Have you tried shipping in general using UPS's website? You need to understand a lot about their system to really use it (for a simple example, the difference between "UPS account" and "having a working login under which you've provided your EIN").

Depends on the location. In NYC, USPS is far more reliable than UPS or Fedex. Just because they can actually get into buildings and leave packages inside.

Brooklyn tenant here, absolutely not. USPS misdelivers all the time. FedEx tends to claim to attempt to deliver a package, leaving a delivery tag on the entrance door (usually indecipherable). Their redeliveries are unreliable, and my package tends to be put in a locker outside a nearby supermarket. UPS is solid.

Funny how that is different in different parts of the city. I'm in Astoria and USPS is the only reliable carrier for my packages.

UPS is okay but they don't have the key so often can't get into the building.

Fedex just straight up lies about deliveries and often never attempts them. By far the worst carrier.

Not in my part of Brooklyn. Don’t even think about getting a package shipped to your home address in my zip code.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact