Mind-Blowing Facts About Amazon’s Giant Shipping Operations

by Megan Rose Dickey

amazon fulfillment center picking

In preparation for Cyber Monday and the holiday season, Amazon has hired an additional 50,000 employees to work in its 40 fulfillment centers 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 percent over last year.

That doesn’t happen by magic. Amazon plows billions into its fulfillment centers. 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 center.

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

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

NBC Nightly News

This fulfillment center is home to thousands of items waiting to be ordered. It’s the largest of Amazon’s 80 fulfillment centers around the world.

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

NBC Nightly News

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

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

NBC Nightly News

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

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

NBC Nightly News

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 centers this 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 centers this holiday season.

NBC Nightly News

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

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

NBC Nightly News

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

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

NBC Nightly News

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

NBC Nightly News

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.

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.

NBC Nightly News

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.

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.

NBC Nightly News

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.

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.

NBC Nightly News

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

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

NBC Nightly News

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