The giant Amazon will now sort a large part of its Belgian parcels itself. From its brand new warehouse in Antwerp, the American e-commerce site is increasing the pressure on bpost, its key partner.
A month after the launch of its Belgian site, Amazon opened its first delivery center in Antwerp. The proximity to the port and the large number of customers in the region were the deciding factors, according to the American e-commerce giant.
At the inauguration on Thursday, the delivery center is still quiet, “but this will soon change as Christmas approaches“, says Eva Faict, manager. “We are in the start-up phase”, confirmed the director Thomas Lejeune. The American platform has a “delay” to catch up in our country against its competitors, Bowl and Coolblue. Amazon’s new delivery center currently employs 43 people.
The center receives parcels via major sorting centers, particularly in France and Germany. These are then sorted in Antwerp and delivered to customers of the region by subcontractors.
Bad news for bpost
The importance of the sorting center should not be underestimated. With this initiative, Amazon pulls the rug out from under bpost. Until recently, the parcel delivery company sorted almost all of Amazon’s Belgian parcels and also delivered them to customers. Amazon is now sidelining bpost in the densely populated areas of Antwerp and Ghent.
It’s society RBR & Cie who is delivery manager. Founded four years ago by two Brussels residents in Machelen, this delivery company currently only handles Amazon parcels. RBR & Cie has hired 70 new drivers in recent months. This number will eventually increase to 200.
“We expect bpost’s Belgian parcel volume to decrease by 6%. The fact that Amazon itself is handling more parcels is starting to weigh in.”
Amazon pointed out earlier this year that it continued to work closely with bpost elsewhere in the country, but we can see that it is now increasing the pressure on the postal service company. By working with multiple suppliers, Amazon may require them to keep prices low.
The implications for bpost are significant, equity analysts at UBS bank confirmed earlier this week. “We expect bpost’s Belgian parcel volume to decrease by 6%. The fact that Amazon is handling more parcels itself is starting to matter,” they added. Analysts even fear that Amazon’s action could contribute to prevent bpostwhich is partly owned by the federal government, achieve its profit target for the current fiscal year.
No federal minister
No federal minister was seen at the inauguration in Antwerp. It was the Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon (N-VA) who cut the ribbon under an arch of balloons in the Belgian colors. “Now, Flanders finally really counts in the world of e-commerce“, he said. “I am and I remain an advocate for local commerce, but everyone must move with the times. E-commerce is here to stay, and due to strict rules, our country has missed the boat in recent years. Thanks to this Antwerp warehouse, less money escapes from the Flemish economy. And it’s also becauseAmazon cooperates with local businesses.”
Belgian merchants can offer their goods on the Amazon site for a fee. By its own admission, Amazon has already succeeded in convincing 1,000 Belgian sellers to join.
Amazon temporarily halts recruitment
Amazon will temporarily pause its recruitment of additional staff due to the uncertain and difficult economic situation, the American e-commerce giant announced on Friday.
In a message to staff, Beth Galetti, vice president of human resources at Amazon, explained that the company will pause hiring “over the next few months” due to economic uncertainty and “in light of the number of people we have hired in the last five years”.
Amazon employs some 1.5 million people worldwide, particularly in Belgium.