All of us know that Amazon Inc. is one of the most successful companies up to date, and many companies look up to them as well. Moreover, their CEO, Jeff Bezos, is the richest man in the world, valued by Forbes at $131 billion as of March 2019. Also, Amazon is known to have revolutionized the catering service system within the last decade. Amazon’s catering service is one of the most trusted and is internationally the fastest delivery system.
While that is all perfect and roses, what most of us might not know is how Amazon manages to deliver these products over thousands of miles so quickly. First off, let’s start with the delivery process. Once an item from your cart gets approved for billing and the payment process is through, your item is ready for shipment. Depending on your location, the item you purchased is brought down to the nearest warehouse, where tens of thousands of products are assembled every day. These warehouses employ hundreds of physical labor employees who get paid wages by the hour to pick up your product from shelves and deliver it to the delivery van that goes to the address pinned on your product.
Now, within these warehouses, all employees are not paid the same. Since they are paid wages by the hour, by simple math, those who work more get paid more. Although this sounds pretty optimistic and calls for hard work, the common man falls into an extremely unhealthy trap. They constantly overwork themselves, and they are not able to maintain the adequate calories required to do that amount of work. They barely get to eat three meals a day. Then you have your Amazon prime delivery, where you get your product from anywhere around the world, the next day. This requires workers from both continents to be continually working to deliver it on time finally. The average worker in these warehouses walk around 15-17 miles per day on a ten-hour shift.
The workers at these warehouses get paid minimum wages. Up until 2018, Amazon paid its workers just $10 an hour. Only after continuous strikes and protests, did they finally increase it to $15 an hour. The wages are not the only factor weighing in here. The working conditions of these workers are also extremely harsh. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job bagging the largest percentage of injuries and illness due to working conditions is warehousing and storage, beating out top contenders like coal and mining, construction, and logging. That’s right! Warehousing and storage is a more dangerous job than coal mining and construction.
What is more alarming is that a few of these warehouses are not owned and operated by Amazon themselves. They usually subcontract to lesser-known outside logistic companies. Hence passing the blame hasn’t been too difficult. There have been numerous reports of people suffocating in these metal warehouses with no air conditioning or proper ventilation. Although most of these cases were extremely rare, and Amazon did take responsibility for a few, this does not exempt the fact they have not done anything to improve this. People’s lives are at stake here. There have been numerous attempts at forming unions by the workers, but Amazon stood by the phrase, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” by giving them the actual hell. They shut down every union formed, and in their updated portfolio, unions are against company policy, which gives them the right to fire the workers without providing a warning. These are only a few incidents that have been mentioned. Feel free to browse through loads of other events such as pregnant women denied their bathroom requests, workers forced to work over a collapsed colleagues’ body, and so forth.
Now you may think that despite all this, how has Amazon not taken a beating. How do they still operate this way, and people still buy products like nothing ever happened. There is a simple answer to this. They are the leaders at what they do. Amazon’s delivery services are the trendsetters of today’s generation. Once Amazon announced their prime next-day delivery, numerous companies began replicating this, including Walmart, the most profitable company, according to Forbes fortune 500 list of 2019. Apart from that, they also have the considerable advantage of customer obsession. In simple words, this means that once you have experienced getting higher quality and somehow cheaper products the very next day, it becomes tough to revert to going to a market and getting it physically.
That being said, Amazon is not the worst company in the industry for warehouse management going by percentages. Unlike many companies, most, if not all, of their warehouses are managed by Amazon themselves, and they have improved their wage pay to $15 an hour, much higher than most warehouse employees. However, being the largest influencer in the world and having the world’s richest man at its head and being ‘not the worst’ is setting a shallow bar for Amazon themselves. So the next time you want to order some Oreo biscuits the very next day via your Amazon prime delivery, take a moment to think if it is necessary to be delivered the very next day. If this system has to be improved, it has to start here, with the customers. Because as long as there is customer obsession, the system only thrives better and learns to optimise further.