Amazon prepares for busy holiday season despite layoffs, walkouts and protests
Cyber Monday is expected to become the year's biggest shopping day, projected to bring more than $11 billion in online sales — a 5% increase from last year.
One of the leaders in online shopping is Amazon, which predicts this year's Cyber Monday event will be even bigger than a record-breaking one last year, despite layoffs, protests and walkouts.
Worldwide, Amazon ships over 66,000 orders every hour, and it all starts at one of 400 warehouses — like Amazon's flagship fulfillment center near Kent, Washington. About 5,000 robots and thousands of people work at the fulfillment center, which is one of the largest in the world.
It can process 1 million packages and items in a 24-hour period, according to Ofori Agboka, Amazon's vice president of People, Experience & Technology, Global Operations.
Evan Shobe, who oversees the center, said it operates like a 3,000-person jazz band.
"We're constantly reacting to a change in tempo or rhythm, that are coming together to bring a lot of diverse products into the building," he said.
Controlled by robots, bins hold items and move around as orders come in. An employee then picks up the purchases so they can travel on conveyer belts to be packed.
"When the tote comes to each packer, they're taking the tote down, they scan each item," said Shobe. "The software tells them which of these many boxes is the perfect box for that item."
Amazon is looking to hire an additional 150,000 workers for the holiday season and beyond. But like other tech companies, Amazon plans to lay off thousands of corporate employees, with its CEO signaling more reductions will come in the new year.
Amazon says its holiday orders, however, will not be affected.
"In our operations, we are prepared, and we believe we're gonna deliver on behalf of our customers in the timeframe that they need," Agboka said.
The online retail giant faced walkouts and protests late last week as workers in 30 countries demanded better pay and working conditions as the holiday shopping season got underway.
Amazon did not respond to requests for comment on the walkouts and protests.
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