10 Ways Amazon’s Warehouse Operations Will Blow Your Mind
Amazon’s daily orders are enough to make any retailer green with envy, but it isn’t just numbers that make the behemoth that is Amazon eye-popping. The first fact about Amazon warehousing is music to the ears of anyone who is always being told to tidy their room
1 – Chaotic Warehousing
And it looks just that – chaotic, but of course there is method in their madness. If every item was stored with the entire stock of that thing, then it would cause a bottleneck with warehouse staff all rushing to the same spot if it was a popular item or spiders would spin thick webs over the spot if it was rarely ordered. By using chaotic warehousing, it means that a particular item may occur in many different places and the warehouse staff are given instructions on how to find the nearest one. This keeps the traffic of pickers moving and also the warehouse has no wasted spots or empty shelves. Exceptions to this plan are things like Kindle, which obviously go out at almost the same speed as they come in. But even when you know why they warehouse chaotically, it still looks pretty amazing in pictures taken from above. It’s a good thing that the computers know where everything is!
2 – Two Records Made and Broken in Just Four Days
Now, that’s quick! Friday 29 November, nicknamed Black Friday, saw some amazing bargains on offer and set a record amount of items sold in one 24 hour period and then Cyber Monday on 2 December set another – just 0.1 million sales more, but 0.1 million is 100,000 so still not to be sniffed at. Black Friday is a sales gimmick straight from the USA and was invented to kick-start the festive spending spree. British buyers embraced the idea with glee and with discounts enormous the sales just kept rolling. Cyber Monday is not so much a gimmick but the day that most people suddenly realise to their horror that Christmas is just around the corner and they had better get shopping – 4 million sales on Friday, 4.1 million on Monday seems to say that there will be a lot of merry Christmases this year.
3 – Work for Amazon and Keep Fit
The average warehouse picker on a normal day in one of Amazon’s warehouses walks an average of 10 miles per day although it may be as much as fifteen. To get this into perspective, this is the same as walking from Trafalgar Square to Wembley Stadium, Brighton to Worthing or the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford to Warwick Castle. You could also walk from the North to the South coasts of the Isle of Wight and do no more walking than an Amazon warehouse picker! It would be interesting to know how many of them go walking as a hobby.
4 – Warehouses are in the Coolest Places!
Amazon warehouses are strategically placed near to airports and road networks to make moving the items they sell around as easy as possible. This means they are not necessarily where you would expect, because the building needs to be so huge they are not always easy to site. As a result, many of the place names are not likely to be familiar, but as a bonus, some of them sound amazing and can’t fail to raise a smile. Dinwiddie in Virginia, USA is pretty amusing but surely everyone’s favourite has to be Crymlyn Burrows in Wales – most people don’t even know that crymlyns live in burrows.
5 – Computer Power
As you might imagine, dealing with millions of sales a day needs a huge amount of computer power. Absolutely up to date figures are not up to date, but as of 2005, Amazon had the world’s three largest Linux databases, with capacities of 7.8 TB, 18.5 TB, and 24.7 TB. The central data warehouse of Amazon is made of 28 Hewlett Packard servers with four CPUs per node running Oracle database software. Although occasionally there are glitches in the system. For example there was a 49 minute down early in 2013 which affected many customers – although with some of the recent bank and Outlook fiascos, 49 minutes looks rather minor! Taken all in all, the computers are pretty fool proof.
6 – Andy Warhol, Anyone?
Amazon has launched a new initiative called Amazon Art which is an online marketplace selling original and limited edition fine art from selected galleries. In the first instance, there were 40,000 listed items of varied value but they included some amazing works, such as Norman Rockwell’s painting ‘Willie Gillis: Package from Home’ with a rather incredible $4.85 million. Andy Warhol’s “Sachiko” for $45,000 seems quite a bargain by comparison. Lucky warehouse picker who got to pick the Monet.
7 – 24/7 is on Its Way
Amazon.com has recently come to an arrangement with the US Postal Service to make deliveries on a Sunday. With orders pouring in at a rate of hundreds of thousands an hour it makes sense to deliver them on the same basis. Next day delivery guaranteed means that with careful timing, an item can be delivered within less than 24 hours – much quicker than ordering it on the High Street.
8 – All Hands on Deck for 6 pm
On Cyber Monday, Amazon had thousands of extra staff on hand to help with the rush of orders but there were certainly no meal breaks being taken at 6 pm, the time when the most orders were being placed online. Previously the peaks on special days had been later in the day at around 9 pm but the bargains were so spectacular on Cyber Monday that people were rushing home from work and logging straight on to take advantage. The pickers are checked for time wasting – they would all have been jogging at double time at 6 o’clock on 2nd December.
9 – Kindle Sales Keep Pickers Busy
Publishers, book sellers and authors were all uncertain as to what the impact of Kindle would be on book sales but the answer has proved of course to be that more and more people are reading because they can buy books for much less money for Kindle reading than for ‘physical’ books and also buying is more convenient. If pickers thought they would be given a rest by fewer books being sold, they may be disappointed. The Kindle readers of all kinds are themselves selling at a rate of one million a week in busy times and the sales are increasing, with prices getting lower and some of the more recent readers such as the Fire being real competition for the iPad and other tablets.
10 – Size is Everything
Amazon warehouses are always being built so any statistics are changing by the month, but at the moment, they equal 700 Madison Square Gardens. If disaster struck and they were all simultaneously flooded, they would hold the same amount of water as 10,000 Olympic swimming pools. And that is big!
Public Relations has always been key to Amazon, and there’s many agencies they have worked with through the years, including Bite Communications, The Red Consultancy, OutCast Agency, Dobbin/Bolga Associates, Fleishman-Hillard, and MWW PR.