Here are key features of Amazon’s on-the-ground delivery in its biggest international market, Germany, compared with DHL, one of the world’s largest logistics firms. Amazon runs its delivery business in a similar way around the world.
- Same day option
Amazon offers same-day deliveries in 20 metropolitan areas in Germany if customers order before midday. Prime members, who pay a monthly fee, get free delivery for articles which qualify.
DHL offers same-day deliveries with a latest time of 4 p.m. for pickups close to a destination. Prices are set individually.
- Hand sorting, preparing for delivery using an app:
Amazon relies on hand-sorting at its distribution centre. Employees use an app that then dictates the order in which the parcels are loaded and delivered. Amazon says each van is loaded with 100 to 200 parcels. Five waves of vans, 250 in total, can be sent on their way before midday.
Sorting is automated at many of DHL’s distribution centres and vans are much bigger. Drivers load them as they see fit, a process that takes about 90 minutes, or longer at less automated centres. One Berlin centre sends out 40 vans a day in two waves.
- Independent contractors provide vans and drivers:
Amazon mostly works with contractors, which provide vehicles and drivers, whereas DHL says it almost exclusively uses employee drivers in Germany. Drivers working for Amazon contractors or subcontractors use Amazon’s app, which plans their route at the last minute to account for traffic.
One subcontracting firm said Amazon pays it 211 euros for a “gate” or area where deliveries are expected to take eight hours, rising to 229 euros for those requiring 10 hours work, plus a fuel surcharge. Amazon declined to comment.
Amazon has begun hiring some staff drivers in the southern city of Munich, who it will pay 12.80 per hour.
At DHL, delivery staff are covered by a collective wage agreement. The company says they get between 13.37 euros and 17.21 euros per hour, plus holiday pay and a 13th month salary.
A DHL driver in Berlin delivers an average of 160 parcels a day, but many are for business customers, where 5-10 might be dropped on one stop and as many as 150 parcels may be picked up along the way. Shifts last eight hours, with a maximum of 10.DHL drivers largely stick to the same areas and report back on congestion to their colleagues.
The company is testing a navigation tool to allow it to advise customers when their parcels are likely to arrive.
- Leaving parcels if low risk: Amazon encourages drivers to leave parcels in a safe place if a customer is not at home and says this means less than 1% are brought back to the depot. The company knows what is inside each parcel and calculates whether leaving it is worth the risk.
At DHL, packages are taken to local post offices or parcel shops for later collection if a driver cannot find someone to sign for them. Both Amazon and DHL are expanding their use of lockers and local shops, where drivers can usually drop multiple parcels.
Reporting by Emma Thomasson and Riham Alkousaa; editing by Philippa Fletcher