Amazon experiencing shipping delays amid busy holiday season and shift to one-day delivery

An Amazon delivery van and driver. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Amazon is experiencing some shipping delays as the busy holiday season continues to heat up.

As first reported by Recode, Amazon cited winter storms as well as increased demand as causes of shipping slowdowns. The company said in a statement it is off to a “record-breaking start” to the holiday season, the first since Amazon embarked on the ambitious initiative to make one-day shipping the core delivery perk for Prime.

“We are off to a record-breaking start to the holiday season and on peak shopping days, delivery promises vary and may be longer than normal based on order volume and the fulfillment and delivery capacity available in a given area,” Amazon said in a statement to Recode. “The winter storms that swept across much of the country at the same time also extended delivery times in some areas. We will work directly with customers who are experiencing an issue with their delivery.”

Amazon has undertaken a variety of actions to beef up its shipping capacity ahead of the holiday season, which has broken e-commerce shopping records so far. However, customers on social media have been grumbling this week about slow delivery times.

Amazon Prime, and its fast-shipping perks have played a crucial role in the company’s rise to become a top e-commerce retailer. However, Amazon’s promises of one- and two-day shipping actually starts from the moment an item leaves the warehouse, not when a customer orders the item.

As Recode notes, Amazon doesn’t typically acknowledge this distinction, but it has pointed it out when talking to customers about shipping delays on social media.

Cyber Monday was the company’s biggest shopping holiday ever, Amazon said. It was also a huge day for online retailers in general, with more than $9.4 billion spent on Monday alone, per Adobe’s analytics arm.

Amazon has made significant investments in its fulfillment network this year as part of the transition to one-day delivery. The tech giant will invest $1.5 billion in the one-day delivery initiative alone during the holiday quarter, likely pushing total shipping costs for the quarter above $10 billion.

Recode notes that Amazon is going into this holiday season minus one key delivery partner. Earlier this year, FedEx elected not to renew a ground shipping deal with Amazon.

This year Amazon doubled the number of seasonal hires up to 200,000. It is also experimenting with using temporary warehouse space near its fulfillment centers to give sellers room to stage their inventory and quickly replenish items that are selling fast. Amazon has doubled the number of trailers in its fleet to 20,000 to speed up shipping.