Amazon – A Logistics Story

Ok – it’s no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I love me some – the company, not the stock ($AMZN: no positions) which I have never owned.   I find it easier, cheaper, and almost as timely to order stuff on Amazon instead of driving 25 minutes to the store to get it.

So here’s the story of my latest order, which I think is pretty interesting from a logistical perspective, and I’d love it if anyone has insights on the how and why.  I’m building an outdoor run for my chickens.    I bought 2 rolls of 36 inch chicken wire, and 1 roll of 24 inch hardware cloth.   I also happened to order some 2-stroke engine mixing oil for my chainsaw/weedwhacker/leaf-blower.

All items were sold by, and I am an Amazon Prime customer.   The checkout page indicated that my items may be shipped in two separate packages, but I didn’t really think much of it.

Today, the UPS ($UPS – no positions) guy came to deliver me a package.  He had one box.

“Just one?” I asked.

“That’s it,” he replied, and gave Oscar a dog biscuit.

I threw the package on the porch and went inside.   Five minutes later the FedEx ($FDX – no positions) guy pulls into my driveway.  He has another box for me – the rest of the order.  Ok – fine.  Interesting, but wait – it gets better.

While I was busy imagining what sort of freight war would have broken out in my driveway if the FedEx guy and the UPS guy had arrived at the same time (I’m picturing a sort of West Side Story dance-off of rural shipping carriers…), I notice that both packages shipped from the same Kentucky warehouse.  Hmmm – that seems strange.   But wait – it gets better: I opened them.

In package 1, delivered by the UPS guy, was 1 roll of the 36 inch wide chicken wire, the roll of 24 inch hardware cloth, and the Tanaka mixing oil.  In package 2, delivered by the FedEx guy, was the other roll of 36 inch wide chicken wire!

In other words, I’d (obviously?) been expecting the FedEx guy’s package to have the roll of 24 inch hardware cloth – which I’d only ordered 1 of.

Mrs. Dynamite happens to be an expert in logistics.  She hypothesized that perhaps Amazon’s warehouse only had 1 roll of the 36 inch chicken wire in stock, and thus they had to drop-ship the other roll to that warehouse before sending it out to me.    Her theory gained credence when I checked and saw that Amazon is out of stock in the 36 inch chicken wire now – you can still buy it from other sellers, but it’s 3-5 weeks if you want it from as the seller.

In case you’re a visual learner, here’s a snapshot of what the contents of each package were:

1) The UPS package:


2) The FedEx package:

Delivered via FedEx

Delivered via FedEx

I find it fascinating that 1) they split up 2 orders of the same item, 2) both shipments appear to come from the same warehouse in Kentucky, and 3) they were delivered by different carriers.

Some readers will look at this and say “this is an example of how stupid amazon is  – sending two separate packages and two separate delivery carriers from the same warehouse to the same destination on the same day.”   That is a *possible* interpretation, but I am guessing this delivery has more to do with logistical mastery than with logistical incompetence.   I’m guessing that Amazon posesses such logistical wizardry that they minimized their costs across carriers while making sure that I would still get my items on time, given their likely inventory constraints on the items I ordered.

Anyway… I find it fascinating…


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