Mind-Blowing Facts About Amazon's Giant Shipping Operations

amazon fulfillment centre picking

Photo: NBC Nightly News

In preparation for Cyber Monday and the holiday season, Amazon has hired an additional 50,000 employees to work in its 40 fulfillment centres across the country. Last year on Cyber Monday, online retailing’s answer to Black Friday, Amazon sold more than 200 items per second. It’s expecting this holiday season to be its biggest yet. Early reports have Amazon’s holiday sales up 40 per cent over last year.

That doesn’t happen by magic. Amazon plows billions into its fulfillment centres. As Cory Johnson of Bloomberg TV notes, Amazon has made $5.3 billion in capital expenditures in the past five years. $2.3 billion, or 43% of that, has come in the last 12 months.

NBC’s Diana Alvear recently got a look inside Amazon’s largest fulfillment centre.

This Phoenix, Arizona-based fulfillment centre could contain 28 football fields.

This fulfillment centre is home to thousands of items waiting to be ordered. It's the largest of Amazon's 80 fulfillment centres around the world.

Last Cyber Monday, Amazon sold more than 200 items per second.

Amazon brought in 50,000 additional employees for what it expects to be its biggest holiday season.

Here's a worker picking items from the shelf. She's one of the 70,000 employees working at Amazon's U.S.-based fulfillment centres this holiday season.

Some items in the 1.2 million square-foot fulfillment centre might be miles apart.

So Amazon employees bike around on a tricycle to race to faraway items.

Here, one worker is putting items on the shelves wherever she can find space. The average worker gets paid between $11 and $14 per hour.

Here's a worker sending off items on the conveyor belt for packing and shipping. She's one of the 2,000 employees working on Cyber Monday to ship out orders.

Workers carefully pack the boxes with bubble wrap. The record for most items moved from the shelves to the loading docks in one week is 2,086,548.

Employees packing boxes for shipment. Some of the day's deals included a flat screen TV offered at about 60% off and the Kindle Fire at nearly 50% off.

These conveyor belts move items through the building at speeds of about 20 mph. There are more to come: Amazon is now building fulfillment centres in states like California that it had previously avoided because of sales taxes. As those rules change, so will Amazon.

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