Amazon staying in Campbellsville, GM says

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Company looking to grow locally, possibly add more jobs

By Moreland Jeff

Rob Robinson says Amazon.com is in Campbellsville to stay, and he should know. Robinson is the general manager of Amazon.com’s Campbellsville fulfillment center. He was also the guest speaker at the Campbellsville/Taylor County Chamber of Commerce luncheon last Thursday, which Amazon.com hosted.

Robinson said not only is the company staying in Campbellsville, growth and additional jobs are a possibility in the future of the local facility as the entire Amazon.com operation continues to grow.
That growth is a result of a business model created by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, and according to Robinson, the customer experience is the reason for Amazon’s success.
“Our mission has always been the same since day one,” he said. “Our mission is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online. That hasn’t changed from back in 1996 when it was started, and it remains so today, and a lot of the innovation you see, like the Kindle, the Kindle Fire, are all driven by our obsession to take care of the customer.”
Robinson pointed out that the Kindle family of products, which is an electronic reader that has grown to provide web browsing and many more features on its new Kindle Fire model, is Amazon’s most successful product. Robinson said the Campbellsville fulfillment center, which opened in August 1999, covers 740,000 square feet and features more than 12 miles of conveyors. The facility can ship hundreds of thousands of products daily, and it has set new records each of the last three years in terms of volume shipped.
“That’s pretty impressive. There’s a lot of good work that goes on here,” he said.
Amazon.com’s performance is not only impressive on the local level. Robinson said the company plans to build eight new fulfillment centers this year, and it built a dozen others in 2011. On a peak day in 2011, the company shipped more than 12 million units, he said.
To further emphasize the customer service offered by Amazon.com, Robinson shared a story about a customer on the west coast who placed an order at 10:59 a.m. Dec. 24 and received the package at 6:30 p.m. the same day. The package was not shipped from the Campbellsville location.
“We’re getting really, really good at closing that gap. One of the things we struggle with from the traditional retailer is instant gratification,” Robinson said. “You give them money, and something is in your hand. With the Internet, we don’t have that, but we are ever shrinking that window to where multiple communities now we have same-day service in some of the larger metropolitan areas, so we again continue to drive that customer experience.”
Robinson said that on Christmas Day 2011, more people turned on new Kindles for the first time, and the new Kindle Fire has sold more models in its first five months on the market than the original model.
But for Amazon.com, it’s not all about the Kindle. Robinson said the company continues to expand the list of items it sells, and customers can now buy everything from snow chains for a car to kayaks.
“If you need a kayak, you can certainly have one next-day air to you. I’m glad they don’t come from here, because that’s a very difficult box to make,” he said.

The company is expanding in all categories, and he said categories such as automotive and health and beauty are some of the new lines handled by Amazon.com.
Despite the wide variety of products offered, not all are from Amazon. Robinson said his company fulfills orders, but many of the items come from outside sellers.
“When I talk about brake rotors or health and beauty products, a lot of the growth and expansion is not Amazon going out and buying all of these products,” he said.
“So if you think about a Walmart model, they go out and buy a truckload of this and a truckload of this. Then they put it on their shelves and people buy it. We have that at Amazon. A lot of what we fulfill and ship, we also sell. A vast majority now of what we sell and fulfill is not ours, it is the small mom-and-pop bookstore. It is somebody that is running a business out of their basement.
“Amazon.com is becoming a marketplace where people can go and find anything online, and we’re expanding that selection for our customers without the upfront investment in goods that may or may not sell.”
As Amazon.com now serves much of the world, it may look like the company doesn’t have much room left for expansion, but Robinson said geography is still a challenge and there are areas where Amazon has no service at all - yet.
“China and India are still developing, but we do have a customer service center in India,” he said.
He said the infrastructure in both countries provides a great challenge and many deliveries there must be made by taxis or even on bicycles.
“We have some reliability issues there, and we have nothing in South America.”
For more about the company, visit www.amazon.com.