Amazon is ramping up the use of drones and robotics
Amazon is ramping up the use of drones and robotics to more efficiently deliver online orders AFP

Online retail colossus Amazon on Thursday reported profit of $9.9 billion in the recently ended quarter on growing sales and more efficient deliveries.

Sales reached $143.1 billion in the recently ended quarter, up 13 percent from the same period last year, according to Amazon.

"We had a strong third quarter as our cost to serve and speed of delivery in our Stores business took another step forward," said Amazon chief executive Andy Jassy, adding its ad business grew "robustly" and AWS cloud computing business "continued to stabilize."

Amazon shares rose more than 3 percent to $123.68 in after-hours trades that followed release of the earnings figures.

Amazon said it will hire 250,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees in the United States to handle holiday shopping demand in the months ahead.

The e-commerce star added that it will invest $1.3 billion to bump up the average hourly wage for delivery and fulfillment jobs to more than $20.50.

Amazon said last week that it will expand drone delivery of certain purchases to a third US state as well as to Britain and Italy by the end of 2024.

Amazon delivery drones are already at work in California and Texas, and a new model will be able to operate in more extreme weather conditions than those currently in use, Amazon Prime Air vice president David Carbon said during a marketing event.

Amazon has also installed a new robotics system called Sequoia in one of its Texas logistics centers, featuring technology like automated vehicles, mechanical arms and computer vision technology.

Amazon already uses 750,000 robots in its warehouses to speed up deliveries, but Sequoia is meant to integrate various automation technologies.

"The better they get at delivery, the more it continues to grow the e-commerce market overall and Amazon's place within that market," said Insider Intelligence analyst Andrew Lipsman.

The popular online shopping platform became a lifeline for many during the pandemic, but since this year it has been facing new competition from Chinese e-commerce apps.

But increased productivity via robots won't fix underlying Amazon worker issues, critics say.

"It's not going to change their logic. And their logic is 'use these workers up and throw them away'," said Sheheryar Kaoosji, executive director of the Warehouse Worker Resource Center, a nonprofit dedicated to improving warehouse industry conditions in southern California.

Amazon early this year eliminated some 27,000 jobs in a move it said at the time was necessary, after years of sustained hiring.