I ordered 21 books from Amazon the other day, choosing, as I always do, ‘expidited international shipping’. The books normally get shipped in 2 or 3 boxes, but this was my email inbox this morning…..
Has Amazon figured that it is actually cheaper to ship items by piece to NZ than in a few bigger boxes? Amazon allocates $7.46 per book to ship, which could just be the total cost divided per book, or could relate to the shipment cost.
The process is fine tuned – while 3 different IT books are being shipped in one box, I bought 5 copies of “Don’t Make Me Think” and they are being shipped book by book.
If Amazon have indeed worked out it is cheaper this way, then is really points the finger at the international shipping companies and their pricing structures. It may have something to do with the US Postal Service recently dropping Surface Mail for international shipments.
Amazon would have worked out that their own internal costs of finding the books, ensuring they are in the same place at the same time, and putting them into larger boxes exceeds the extra costs of packing and shipping in consolidated boxes.
Moreover they are doing this on the fly – order by order, book by book. That is pretty cool.
Now – suppose the books are stored in the warehouses pre-packed? Then all Amazon would have to do is take the book out of the shelf, place a sticky pre-paid address label on it and ship. One touch. Once you have that system then all sorts of logistics savings could result: they don’t have to bring the books back to a central sorting location, they can pick up all the books in one area and ship them from that area, they can get the books pre-wrapped before getting to the warehouse and they can get bigger discounts from shipping companies because their orders are simpler to handle. I also imagine that handling damage would drop way down, and the entire process lends itself to automation.
Or you could say that the pre-packed books would be too big, so I’m guessing that they are pre-wrapped in plastic, and then put into a box/bag as they are picked up and tagged.
Amazon realize they are very good at this, and so are now offering to “fulfillment by Amazon” for non-Amazon independent sellers, including large eBay sellers.
It is stunning really. I’m going to be very interested to find out what delivery company was used for my huge incoming pile of packages, and where the books were shipped from…