Amazon receives ocean freight license to ship packages from China by sea

Jason Del Rey
Amazon receives license to ship from China by sea

Amazon has its own trucks, drones and maybe some planes. Soon, you might be able to add ships to the list.

The company's China subsidiary has received a license in the U.S. to operate as an ocean freight forwarder — an entity that organizes the shipment of goods from a supplier or factory in one region — say, China — to a company or customer somewhere far away, like the U.S.

The license was unearthed by Flexport, a San Francisco-based logistics startup that published a blog post on the news today.

Read More from Re/code:
Things sound especially hairy for Uber in China
If Apple Was a Democracy (Comic)
Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg Donated $31 Million in Facebook Stock to Charity

"Amazon China now has the appropriate paperwork to provide ocean freight services for other companies," the blog post read. "This is Amazon's first step toward entering the $350 billion ocean freight market."

The move comes as Amazon continues to make inroads in controlling more of what happens after a customer clicks "Buy" to ultimately cut down on shipping costs and improve speed and reliability of deliveries.

In the blog post, Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen suggests that Amazon's competitive advantage over old-school freight forwarders will be the automation of some steps of the shipment process through software, thus cutting labor costs along the way.

As Petersen notes, Amazon could add an ocean shipment service to its popular Fulfillment By Amazon warehousing offering to help transport goods from Amazon sellers in China to Amazon warehouses quicker by cutting out middlemen.

In another scenario, such a service could be employed to help Chinese sellers ship directly from China to the doors of customers in America, in a salvo aimed at Wish, the $3 billion shopping app that Re/code recently profiled, he suggested. Third-party businesses now account for almost half of all goods sold on Amazon globally.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment.

CNBC's parent NBC Universal is an investor in Re/code's parent Revere Digital, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.

Don't expect a Netflix, Amazon repeat in 2016