Source: Rodrigue, J-P (2020) “The Distribution Network of Amazon: Analyzing the Footprint of Freight Digitalization”, Journal of Transport Geography, Vol. 88. N=187.
An outcome of the diversity of items offered by online retailers such as Amazon is that a large number of e-fulfillment facilities (EFC) are designed not for the type of items they carry, but if this item is sortable or not. The most common EFC (38% of all facilities where item specialization was known) are large non-sortable facilities that need to be close to markets because of the weight and bulk of the shipments. EFCs specializing in small sortable items are the second most common (34%) and have more locational flexibility. Specialized EFCs (12% of all facilities) focus on a specific range of items such as footwear, apparel, jewelry, and high-value electronics. Amazon also maintains two facilities solely specializing in returns where items are either restocked, sold to liquidation companies, or discarded.