Why Do They Do That? The Mystery of Amazon’s Shipping Boxes

There’s nothing we love more than creating the perfect container for our customer’s products. Blending superior protection with efficient design and cutting-edge techniques, which help businesses better reach their clients is a challenge that never gets old.


Every business and the challenges they face are unique; therefore each and every organization’s response to their challenge is also unique.


There’s one issue that keeps packaging aficionados and laymen alike scratching their heads; how does Amazon decide the size of the box used to ship products from their warehouse?


It’s gotten better in recent years, but we still find ourselves wondering. When you order a pair of socks, they might show up in a padded envelope or they might arrive in a box large enough to block your front door. For a company that absolutely owns the online retail market, we can’t stop wondering how this happens.


Research into Amazon’s Shipping Methods

Unfortunately, online research doesn’t turn up an authoritative answer to this quandary. After some in-depth sleuthing, however, we did come across some interesting stories.


According to an article from Gizmodo, each item has a box of particular dimensions associated with it. Sometimes the size data for the product is entered incorrectly when either the vendor or Amazon input incorrect dimensions and the result is a single greeting card shipped in a massive box.


Given the date of the Gizmodo article (2013), this reason seems plausible for the time but outdated with the way Amazon operates today. We find that sort of simple data entry error to be unlikely.


In more recent articles, we’ve discovered a bit of logic that seems more likely to be in Amazon’s wheelhouse. A Technology Review article offered an explanation while they discussed the robotic Kiva systems that move inventory around their warehouses.


The article described a system where each item is assigned a box in order to more efficiently fill delivery trucks as they leave the fulfillment center. A Tetris-like assortment of boxes completely fills the interior cargo space of the truck, preventing damage by ensuring that the packages don’t move during transit.


You may have ordered one spatula, but when your single-spatula order is combined with all the other orders leaving the warehouse, you were assigned a larger box in order to fill out the load.


Given the way that Amazon has embraced technology at all levels of their business, this sort of algorithmic container-selection system doesn’t seem too far off base.


What Does Amazon Say About Shipping?

As far as how the process is evolving, Amazon is fairly tight-lipped about the exact methodology of its delivery system. The most recent figures we have for their overall delivery volume comes from 2016, which is bordering on the distant past in relation to technology.


But, in that same year, Amazon did report implementing something called “Box on Demand,” a system that was intended to optimize the correct box for each item. It’s resulted in some improvements and allowed Amazon to use more padded mailing envelopes in an effort to increase sustainability. It’s clearly an ongoing effort since very once in a while we still get one of those huge-box/small-item deliveries.


So what do you think? Are you Team Tetris? Do you believe that simple user error could possibly be to blame? What’s the last unusual packaging/product pairing that you received? Jump over to our Facebook or Instagram page to share your thoughts.


The Custom Packing Experts

We know we’re the custom-packing experts, but when we see one of these oddly packed items, we know you have the same response we do – “This could be done better.” Every day WIC is proud to do it better, and we’re ready to show you what the perfect container will do for your business.


Whether you need to improve your packaging, reduce breakage, or make transportation easier, we’ll create a solution customized to fit your needs. Contact us now and we could help streamline your warehouse and improve your bottom line at the same time. We’re up for the challenge of finding your perfect container.

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