About thirty years ago I visited two large book-distributor warehouses (Spring Arbor and Riverside Book & Bible) and saw firsthand the inner workings of a pick-and-pack operation. I observed what seemed like miles of shelves and a lot of people scurrying from one place to the next.
That is why the video below about the complexity of Amazon’s shipping operation was eye-opening. The use of robots to take shelves to a person instead of the person going to the shelf is a game changer!
No matter what you may think of this online giant, it is fascinating to see how your order for bandages, a commentary on Romans, and fish food end up at your home after placing one order. Rather incredible for a business that started in the garage of Jeff Bezos in 1994.
While the video is 18 minutes long (and includes a one-minute commercial from Hover), the time is well worth it. The more you increase your knowledge of how the business side of things work, the more comfortable you will become with the business side of things!
Watch to understand the differences between Amazon and FedEx, DHL, and UPS and also how they partner to get your boxes to you.
I’m curious to hear your thoughts or questions about this and how Amazon’s process impacts the publishing industry.
By the way, if you are interested you can read this article published last week about the sheer size of the Amazon empire, “How Amazon Makes Money.”
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Quite impressive. I especially like how Amazon lowers their cost of delivery by organization of items, use of robots, and lease of shared sorting facilities. I does make me wonder why the Postal Service can’t get two-day priority mail delivered in two days.
The poor postal service got crushed in December by overload.
In our house we placed an order for 10 books from a ministry to give away to friends at Christmas. Order placed on December 4th. We got the books in mid-January.
Hopefully they will figure out their logistic logjams next year.
Second comment. Amazon thinks outside the box. Are we trying to compete with someone else by beating or matching them in their own style and business model, or do we succeed by being distinct and separating ourselves from the crowd? Each of the delivery companies (Amazon, UPS, FedEx, etc.) are striving to please their customers; we write to hear our God say, “Well done.”
each of the companies “IS” striving
Scores of footsore pickers
treading miles and miles of shelves,
replaced now by the figures
of swift robotic elves
whose muscles never tire,
who never need a break,
whose diligence requires
bar-codes with no mistake,
thus freeing us for leisure
in the days ahead,
a future that we treasure,
but recall the Bard who said
that if years were playing holidays
they’d vanish in ennui-ed haze.
Wonderfully creative as always!
Steve, thanks! This one was really fun.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Fascinating. I know that I do appreciate being able to get what I need delivered to (or within 2 miles as we live in the forest) our house, especially during the pandemic.
If/when you have grandchildren they can truly sing “over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go” !!!
“If you’re worried about Amazon’s growing position as the one-stop shop for the world, be worried, because they’re only getting better at it.” I am truly impressed by logistics. Wow. I’m a logistics person and this is very streamlined.
However, in the book market, they have very poor ability to manage categories. Its inefficiency will bite them in the end. Having self-claimed categories ends up with erotica showing up under Christian categories, muddying the advantage they might have otherwise had. I think we need a different “search engine” for Christian books, especially now that the cancel-culture is targeting conservative thinkers and writers and public figures.
There is a search engine like that already. Go to christianbook.com.
I use their services regularly. As a search engine it is a way to search for Christian books that are in-print and available now.
Amazon is a great start, but all books of all types show up in a topic search. But has the advantage of also showing books that are no longer available via retail, but are available as used books.
Amazon has become as indispensable as my cell phone. And their turn-around is equally habit-forming. While I think there’s “no going back” a quiet alarm is beeping as though buried under a dozen smiling boxes warning that this one-stop-shop might have too much of the pie. I’m saving a few slices ie. alternatives to online purchasing and ways to download eBooks, if only maintain a variety of flavors. It’s healthy right?
Not too many alternatives for eBooks, unless you choose the ePub format which works on everything, except the Kindle.
The worst part is that when you “buy” an ebook you technically only renting it for as long as you keep your account. You don’t actually own the file. You can’t offload your purchases, for example. Not like when you bought mp3s of your favorite songs.
This was exhibited a few years ago when Amazon reached into people’s ebook libraries and removed a George Orwell title (no irony there) that had been illegally sold. Startle a lot of people who then asked where was their refund for the “stolen” book! HAH.
Walmart, Target, and others are trying to give people online options and do in some ways.
Grocery stores are doing a pretty good job of the last-mile using services like Instacart (which Aldi uses for personal delivery of your groceries).
It’s a wild world. And Amazon isn’t even 30 years old yet.
OLUSOLA SOPHIA ANYANWU
Thanks for this Steve! God bless you.
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D.
How interesting! Thanks for sharing it.