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Amazon could take on FedEx and UPS with shipping business this year

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Sean O'Kane / The Verge

There have been rumblings over the past few months about Amazon creeping into the shipping business, and now Bloomberg reports seeing internal documents describing just how it plans to do that. Though Amazon has suggested that its interest in leasing planes and operating cargo ships is primarily a matter of dealing with extra demand during the holidays, Bloomberg says that Amazon appears to have every intention of turning shipping into a core business, with its launch potentially arriving this year. The service would essentially turn Amazon into a FedEx and UPS rival, allowing merchants to rely on Amazon to bring their products from a warehouse all the way to a customer's door.

A "revolutionary system that will automate the entire international supply chain."

The documents reportedly spell out in detail what Amazon's recent actions have been hinting at. Amazon says that it intends to create a "revolutionary system that will automate the entire international supply chain." Groups of merchants in areas like China or India would be able to use an app to hail Amazon trucks to their warehouses, which would then bring their goods to ports for transport on ships chartered by Amazon. The report doesn't elaborate on specifically what happens once the goods arrive at their general destination, only saying that they'll be directed into Amazon's home distribution network. That means Amazon's control of the supply chain could stop there, or it could just be waiting to move into trucking and other local forms of package transportation. As Amazon has made it well known, it already wants to be able to deliver packages via drone.

Amazon will apparently be going after smaller merchants first, with the intention of bringing them together as a way to cut costs. Amazon also intends to cut various intermediaries from the shipping process, theoretically simplifying things and further reducing prices. "Sellers will flock to [Fulfillment By Amazon] given the competitive pricing," the document reads, according to Bloomberg. Though the documents examined by Bloomberg are said to be from 2013, it reports hearing that they reflect Amazon's ongoing strategy. The documents have 2016 as a launch date for the "Global Supply Chain by Amazon" initiative described above, but it's not known whether that's still on target. Either way, documents get at why Amazon has been so interested in shipping lately.