With HQ2 Decision Still To Come, Amazon’s New Atlanta Command Center Solidifies The Region’s Transportation and Logistics Prowess

E-commerce pioneer joins existing industry leaders, startups already located in the largest Southeast metropolis.

The recent announcement by Amazon that the e-commerce behemoth is building a new logistics hub in Atlanta should come as no surprise. With stalwarts such as Delta, UPS, Manhattan Associates, Radial and LogFire (recently acquired by Oracle WMS Cloud) calling the Peach State home, it’s long been a center of excellence for the transportation and logistics industry. VCO Systems was founded from these roots. Nearly our entire team has developed skills and knowledge from these supply chain pioneers, which formed the basis of our supply chain consulting practice, and later, our suite of light solutions aimed at helping retailers manage demand peaks without significant infrastructure investments.

So what were the early factors that led to Atlanta’s place as a logistics powerhouse? It all started with location, robust airline transportation, and reasonable housing costs. When UPS announced it was moving to Atlanta in 1991 from Greenwich, Connecticut, they cited each of those factors. Atlanta’s airport, then known as Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, was already on its way to becoming the world’s busiest, an attractive perk for a company focused on transportation. With 80% of the U.S. population located within a two-hour flight from the city, it’s also very efficient for moving both people and cargo around.

With UPS’ arrival as arguably the catalyst, the Atlanta metro area has seen an influx of transportation and logistics companies follow suit ever since, including many that are homegrown. In a sign the industry is maturing here, a new generation of startups trying to compete in the space have popped up, including UPS-backed Roadie, trying to become the “Uber” of shipping small packages across the country to locations people are already headed. Similar to the impact of Microsoft in Seattle, or Dell Computer in Austin, the concentration of talent, investment and resources in the Atlanta market make starting or developing a logistics business in Atlanta very attractive.

As we prepare to move into our fifth year as a company, we’ve already seen a great deal of change in the supply chain industry, and Atlanta as a whole. The city is no longer a stranger to startups and new technology, and has begun to pitch itself accordingly. The recent IoT.ATL initiative is one such example — founded in partnership with the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Atlanta Committee for Progress, the group aims to raise the profile of the region’s Internet of Things (IoT) endeavors. At VCO, we continue to evolve with our clients, many of whom are enterprise-level retailers working to stay relevant in an increasingly Amazon-dominated e-commerce world. Like Amazon, these retailers need to develop a world-class logistics operation just as importantly as their existing focus on product assortment and customer experience. And no city has more of that experience and core competency than metro Atlanta.