Peak Season at Amazon is crazy, fun, and exciting. That is a time when “all hands on deck” really comes into play and everybody is pitching in to help. It’s also a time that really tests the amazon click-to-ship system and overall Operations, to make sure that product flows from warehouses to the customer in a seamless, high-velocity, and defect-free way.
Amazon has 2 peak seasons: (1) inbound peak and (2) outbound peak.
Inbound peak is Amazon’s buying spree from its suppliers. The key piece here is the Sales and Operations Plan (S&OP) that gets published internally and is disemminated to Operations. This report attempts to show the predicted high-demand SKU’s (ASIN’s) and the amount that ought to be purchased. Inbound peak begins around August and ends roughly around September or October. At this time, all labor and budgeted hours is shifted to the inbound side of things.
Here’s a picture of an Amazon facility, during inbound peak:
Outbound peak typically happens at week 45, or close to Thanksgiving. This is when labor and budgeted hours are shifted to the outbound side of things. This is the time when Amazon makes most of their revenue during the year and there’s a lot of pressure to deliver and meet customer expectations. It’s an exciting time and a time and everyone at Amazon feels like they are making history.
Amazon apparently did very, very well this year in fulfilling customer orders. Below is a small snapshot of what the 2006 Holiday Season looked like for Amazon:
Click on the image for a larger view.
The above chart is just a sample of the units being shipped by Amazon. Multiply the above numbers by 13+ fulfillment centers and also drop-shippers; the amount of volume that Amazon deals with is amazing.
Amazon’s focus on Customer Obsession remains a tenet that remains with me to this day. Amazon.com is an amazing company, doing incredible things, and making history. It has its problems but, for me, Amazon.com remains a company to be admired.