Here’s why Amazon won’t be a threat to FedEx or UPS anytime soon

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Michael Seto/Business Insider

Despite recent reports suggesting Amazon’s plan to build its own full-scale delivery network, financial research firm Cowen & Co. doesn’t believe it will be an immediate threat to any of the market incumbents like UPS or FedEx.

“We believe Amazon will continue to build their delivery network as a complement to UPS and FedEx and not as a replacement,” Cowen analyst Helane Becker says in a note published Monday.

Cowen’s argument comes down to two factors: Amazon’s doesn’t have the density and reach of UPS/FedEx; and retail customers will not want to switch over to a delivery service run by Amazon, which is typically their largest competitor.

Becker notes Amazon’s growing investment in this space, including its partial ownership of
aircraft-leasing company ATSG, will help the company speed up delivery between its own warehouses. But Amazon still lacks the network and service infrastructure to compete in the door-to-door consumer delivery space, the note said.

“Amazon’s delivery plans are currently slower (other than Prime, which is same day and even within hours, and is not what FedEx or UPS do) and less far reaching than FedEx and UPS and the added reach and speed of UPS and FedEx will continue to be needed,” Becker writes.

Perhaps the bigger problem, as noted by Becker, is that Amazon will have difficulty courting retail customers in the first place, because of data concerns. Any customer hiring Amazon as its delivery partner will end up giving Amazon access to its sales data, and no retailer would want to do that.

“By delivering for other customers, Amazon would be able to tap into sales data and could undercut shippers using their service. Most retailers view Amazon as their largest competition and probably won’t want to share this data,” the note said.

Rumours of Amazon building its own delivery service gained steam recently after a number of moves in the logistics space. It also called itself a “transportation service provider” for the first time in its annual report in February, adding fuel to the speculation.

Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky addressed the issue during last earnings call, saying Amazon is indeed building its own logistics business, but it’s not meant to replace any of the existing partners, like FedEx or UPS.

Yet, it continues to be a hot issue and some Wall Street analysts still believe Amazon’s real intention is to go after existing delivery companies.

“All in, we believe it is likely Amazon will make a concerted effort to take over ever larger portions of its supply chain,” RBC Capital’s Mark Mahaney wrote in a note last month. “However, a full-blown Amazon parcel delivery operation would likely take years to complete, so we believe FDX [FedEx] and UPS would have time to react.”

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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