Amazon continues to expand its number of fulfillment centers in the U.S., announcing on Thursday that it would be opening a new facility in Joliet, Ill.
This would mark the second center in Joliet while adding 2,000 jobs to the area. The size of the new center was not revealed, but many of Amazon’s fulfillment centers can reach the high hundreds of thousands in square feet, or the size of many football fields.
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Amazon uses its fulfillment centers as warehouses for its own inventory as well as for third-party merchants who want sell to Amazon’s estimated 50 million Prime members. Prime members pay $99 annually to get anything from toilet paper to diapers to books delivered to them in two days or less. Amazon said that this second facility in Joliet would be used to pack and ship smaller shipments.
Increasingly, these orders are being delivered in a matter of hours through Amazon’s Prime Now service, one part of the company’s aggressive strategy for getting goods to customer’s doorsteps as fast as possible. Currently, the only midwestern city where Prime Now is available is in Chicago. The Joliet facility could be a central place for deliveries to Chicago as it is only 40 miles away from the Windy City.
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Amazon continues to expand the number of fulfillment centers in the U.S. as its fulfillment business for third-party sellers continues to grow. Outside sellers now account for more than 45% of total number of items sold on Amazon, a 5% uptick since January. That means that the e-commerce giant likely needs to create more space and logistics for these goods.
According to a report from 2015, Amazon was operating 104 North American fulfillment centers and warehouses and 69 facilities outside North America. The company most recently announced plans to open a new facility in Kansas.