It may seem like every day is Amazon Day, but now it’s official—and it is whatever day of the week U.S. Prime members select to be their delivery day.
Amazon Day is also an effort to reduce the number of shipments from the ecommerce platform. While it is unclear exactly how many boxes Amazon ships in the U.S., it’s undoubtedly a lot: In its 2018 Prime roundup, Amazon disclosed members around the world ordered more than 2 billion products with one-day delivery or faster; and, in 2017, it said more than 5 billion items shipped worldwide with Prime using multiple delivery options.
Here’s how it works: As of Feb. 28, Amazon Day is featured as a Prime delivery option. Once members pick their day, they can add items to a weekly order up to two days in advance. Then, on the designated day, everything arrives. (Members can still choose other shipping options if they want something faster. They are also free to change their Amazon Day as it suits them each week.)
Per its FAQs, most of the 100 million items available with free two-day shipping are shipped by Amazon and therefore eligible, but it varies by item.
Amazon calls this a sustainability initiative that makes it easier to group packages, which “in many cases” results in fewer packages overall. It is part of Shipment Zero, which is Amazon’s mission to make all shipments net zero carbon with 50 percent of all shipments net zero by 2030.
In a statement, Maria Renz, vice president of delivery experience, said the platform “has already reduced packaging by tens of thousands of boxes” in tests with Prime members prior to nationwide rollout.
Amazon is coy and estimates vary about how much of the U.S. ecommerce market it controls, but, like the number of boxes it ships, it’s surely a lot. Estimates have come as high as 50 percent, but others have found it was more like 40 percent last year and will reach 50 percent in 2023.
And while Amazon has upstaged retailers when it comes to holiday shipping perks and checkout-free shopping, it’s been quieter about its environmental impact. In fact, like with standardized tests of facial recognition software (until recently), Amazon has declined to participate in the CDP’s annual climate change survey.
CDP, which was formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, created what it calls the Climate A List in 2011 as a “global disclosure system” that helps companies and regions “measure and manage their environmental impacts.” In 2018, nearly 7,000 companies representing more than 50 percent of global market capitalization participated. Amazon declined and received an F. (In fact, Amazon has declined to participate, or has simply not responded, since the very beginning.)
CDP said an A means the company is “leading on environmental performance.” Sort of like grades at school, a rep noted B means the company is managing its performance, C means it is aware of its performance and D means it has disclosed its performance. Factors impacting scores include: setting science-based climate targets, committing to procure 100 percent renewable electricity, setting an internal carbon price and linking remuneration packages for senior leadership with climate targets.
Retailers who participated—and their 2018 grades—include: Apple (A), Best Buy (A), Costco (D), CVS Health (B), eBay (B), Home Depot (A), GameStop (C), Gap (B), JCPenney (B-), Kohl’s (C), Kroger (C), Lowe’s (C), Macy’s (C), Nordstrom (B), Office Depot (D), Sears (D), Target (C), Tiffany & Co. (B), Walgreens (C) and Walmart (A-).
In addition, the marketplace Etsy recently announced it can offset its shipping-generated carbon emissions by purchasing a reduction in greenhouse gases from renewable energy partner 3Degrees—including the sponsorship of wind and solar farms and the protection of forests.
To be fair, in May 2018, Amazon said its long-term goal is “powering its global operations footprint with 100-percent renewable energy,” but it did not set forth a specific timeline other than it wants to install at least 50 rooftop solar systems globally by 2020. At that point, Amazon said it has announced or commenced construction on projects that will generate a total of 3.6 million megawatt hours of renewable energy.
But it’s unlikely Amazon Day was exclusively about reducing carbon emissions anyway. (Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.)
A November 2018 study from Monmouth University, for example, found 78 percent of Americans believe in climate change—and 54 percent say it is a “very serious problem.” That means Amazon Day could help the platform appeal to Prime holdouts. In his 2018 shareholder letter, CEO Jeff Bezos disclosed the company has more than 100 million Prime members worldwide. And, with a U.S. population of 326 million, even if most of those memberships are already in the U.S., there are still plenty of potential Prime members out there. (And a cool 7 billion people, give or take, if he truly has his heart set on world domination.)
But it also helps Amazon justify Prime’s $119-a-year price tag, which increased by $20 per year in May 2018. In addition to free two-day shipping, Prime perks include movies, TV, music, photos, discounts at Whole Foods and, now, Amazon Day.