When we think of Amazon, we might picture a great ecommerce site, a non-stop player that is revolutionizing the definition of the “shopping experience”, by evolving along with customers and changing their lifestyles. Today, Amazon sells just about everything, from books and movies to clothing and groceries.
But, what is behind this giant in terms of logistics?
Located near Piacenza, Amazon’s biggest warehouse in Italy was waiting for a group of MBA Students from MIP Politecnico di Milano to enchant them with its automatization and logistics inside.
We woke up early to catch a bus and enjoy the action of a 100,000 sq. feet warehouse, with 1500 employees plus the seasonal ones required in high demand moments of the year, such as Black Friday or Christmas.
Once in the facilities, we were inspired by a fellow member of the Pathways Program, which is made to continue training MBA graduates throughout different managerial positions and impact the operations of the company.
He mentioned that Amazon is a place where leaders can constantly grow by trying different and better ways of doing the same processes, meaning that they look for strong innovators who engage in every aspect of the operation.
The program offers international opportunities, along with strong analytical data to be analyzed and interesting challenges. In contrast, the company expects that candidates are flexible and mobile, with strong leadership skills and a are solid decision makers. Most importantly, the gear that moves this company is the customer obsession, not only external but internal, in order to make sure of the quality of the source in every process and promote efficiency.
Once we understood the values of the company and what does it take to work inside it, we were ready to catch a glimpse of the whole operation in the warehouse. It’s important to notice how their values are within the spirit of their workers, because they all consider safety and security at all times.
We were escorted and guided to the main processes by always understanding that we were valuable customers. The facility not only holds Italian packages, but also serves as storage and transit of other seven European countries to guarantee the coordination within the zone. The operation is divided into four main processes: Inbound, Receive and Store and Outbound.
In regards to the process itself, it starts when the products come inside the warehouse (Inbound), which are all inspected to make sure that what comes inside is what Amazon has ordered. Their bar code system helps to identify each item and they work with FIFO, “First In, First Out” process, which receives the packages in the order they get (Receive). Once they are checked in, all packages are moved into four “pick towers”, a big storage space where all the products are stocked until required by a customer order through the ecommerce page (Store). This storage is made without any specific order, but making sure the bar code is always identifying the product. We were excited to understand how a mathematical algorithm makes the manual pick process of agents the most efficient one.
Once picked, the packages are divided between fragile and not fragile, and are transported between belts and slides that make the process very automatized. There are several packers that with such an easy way put every product into a box, with a lot of precaution. More transportation is done until we get to the final courier belt, where packages are scanned and delivered automatically to specific boxes depending on the courier they need to be expedited (Outbound).
It’s amazing how this process has revolutionized the way we buy things. Nowadays, it might be more important to be with our loved ones than to lose time buying our groceries.
With a simple click triggered by a customer, this organization knows how to manage a very efficient process and deliver in a few hours a product to a customer. Amazon success factors are closely tied to his CEO, Jeff Bezos. His innovation and desire to keep moving forward has pushed the company further than early critics believed possible.
No matter how you look at it, Amazon has grown up from a little online bookstore to an industry giant. They are a clear example of a #growingleader.
If you are reading this and are interested in visiting Amazon to enjoy its operational success, do a reservation at their page on the first days of the month, by clicking here.
I hope you also have a great AMAZON EXPERIENCE!