Amazon orders 20,000 vans to build delivery fleet

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon has ordered 20,000 vans for its new delivery program in which contractors around the country can launch businesses that deliver packages for the online retailer.

The company today said that it increased its van order from 4,500 after it was surprised by the number of applications it received. The vans, which are stamped with Amazon's smile logo in blue, can be used by contractors to deliver packages.

"We have been blown away," said Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations. He said tens of thousands applied, but declined to give a specific number.

The delivery program is part of Amazon's plan to gain more control over how its packages are delivered and rely less on other delivery services, such as UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service. With these vans on the road, Amazon said more shoppers would be able to track their packages on a map or see a photo of where a package was left when they weren't home.

Charlie O'Shea, the lead retail analyst at Moody's, said the program can help Amazon expand same-day delivery and compete with brick-and-mortar retailers that have order-online-and-pick-up-in-store services. "This is an area where Amazon needs to up its game a little bit," he said.

Amazon has been working on bolstering its delivery network. It has a fleet of cargo planes called "Prime Air," and it also pays people as much as $25 an hour to deliver packages with their cars through Amazon Flex.

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