(NEW YORK) — The inner world of Amazon looks like a bustle of conveyor belts and bargains on Cyber Monday.
Amazon has 80 giant fulfillment centers strategically sprinkled around the globe that are ready to fulfill every order from click to delivery. The process follows miles of conveyer belts inside a massive 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse that is like the unseen shopping mall that never closes.
Josh Teeter is a former military intelligence officer and now the general manager of Amazon’s Phoenix warehouse. The facility stocks everything from soccer balls to table cloths and one of the biggest tasks is making sure they always have enough of the right products.
“That’s kind of the magic of Amazon and the selection. Making sure you have all that and it’s here at the right time,” Teeter said. “So we’re the kind of customer facing side of that there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure we have the right product.”
You won’t find any robots inside Amazon’s fulfillment centers. Orders pop up on a scanner, get plucked from a shelf by hand and are then dropped into a barcoded yellow bin.
Amazon added a small army of extra workers in its fulfillment centers just to handle the holidays and all those electronics, tie-die fashion kits and heated pet bowls that absolutely must get out the door and fast.
“It gets very busy at this time, and folks work hard for sure but again, we bring in help we’re hiring 50,000 seasonal employees to help meet that demand and we’re excited,” Corporate Vice President Craig Berman said.
Amazon has faced serious complaints that workers are pushed to the limit in tough conditions and encouraged not to report on the job injuries. But Berman was quick to point out that their employees actually make far better wages than their brick-and-mortar shopping mall counterparts.
“We are a company of constant improvement so these jobs are very, very safe jobs, and our wages, they’re very well-paying jobs,” Berman said.
In 2010, Cyber Monday racked up 13 million individual Amazon items sold in 24 hours. Last year the number grew to 17 million. This year, the company says, will turn out to be the biggest yet.
One of Amazon’s secrets is barcodes. Everything inside their warehouses has a bar code to find it, to ship it, to track it.
But how can they have everything from medieval chainmail to clock oil and binocular magnifying glasses on hand at all times? Only part of the answer is huge inventory. The other part comes from small business owners like Dan O’Donnell whose tiny jewelry supply store, which sells that clock oil, has exploded by selling through Amazon. This small businesses’ stuff show’s up on Amazon’s website and Amazon gets a cut of the action.
But despite the huge inventory and third party sellers, Amazon still can’t guarantee the lowest prices, so be sure to shop around for the best deals.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Heather Long, CNN
Kathryn Vasel, CNN