Quick look: Inside Amazon’s vast distribution business

Amazon has made online product selling and distribution an art form

Credit: REUTERS/Phil Noble

CBS news show “60 Minutes” recently said that if Santa had a real workshop (and who says he doesn’t really) it would look like an Amazon distribution or fulfillment center. Usually massive, and highly organized the centers contain all manner of products that the company moves and ships at lightning pace. Here we take a look at a few of those centers and a few future plans for services surrounding them.

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Here a worker stands at his designated workspace at a packing station as he supervises items for delivery from the 70,000 square meter warehouse floor at Amazon's new distribution center in Brieselang, near Berlin. Germany's antitrust watchdog recently dropped an investigation into Amazon after the world's biggest Internet retailer agreed to stop forcing third-party merchants to offer their cheapest price when selling products on its platform.

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A worker gathers items for delivery from the warehouse floor at Amazon's distribution center in Phoenix. The company has 96 such centers worldwide.

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Here work is carried out at Amazon's new fulfillment center after it was opened by Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond in Dunfermline, Scotland, in 2011. The warehouse covers more than 1 million square feet (93,000 square meters), about the size of 14 soccer pitches, and is Amazon’s biggest in the United Kingdom.

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A worker gathers items for delivery from the warehouse floor at Amazon's distribution center in Phoenix.

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A member of staff pushes a trolley as she collects orders at the Amazon fulfillment center in Peterborough, central England.

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A worker prepares an item for delivery at Amazon's distribution center in Phoenix.

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A worker stacks a shipping trailer with boxed items for delivery.

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A parcel travels along a conveyer belt at Amazon's new distribution center in Brieselang, near Berlin.

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The suggestion board at Amazon's new distribution center in Brieselang.

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View of the reception of Amazon Europe Holding Technologies in Luxembourg.

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Here Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at a news conference during the September launch of Amazon's new tablets.

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Graphics of the Amazon Kindle tablets are seen at a news conference during the launch of Amazon's new tablets in New York, Sept. 28.

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Amazon is going beyond its traditional service areas and producing original television programming.

Amazon
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On a segment of CBS’ “60 Minutes” Amazon’s Bezos said the company was developing a drone-based delivery service called Prime Air that would be able to pick up and deliver 5 pounds and under packages in a half hour. Whether or not the technical hurdles required for such a service are ever overcome, it's great PR. "I know this looks like science fiction. It's not," Bezos said.

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An Amazon Fresh delivery van moves down Pico Bloulevard in Los Angeles, June 14, 2013. The online grocery start-up Webvan is rising from the dead -- in the form of an online grocery business called Amazon Fresh.