What People Buy at Amazon

What People Buy at Amazon

What are People Buying at Amazon?

Working at Amazon gives me the opportunity to see first hand what America is buying in real-time. The data Amazon has on the world’s interests and buying habits is unbelievable. Very valuable data to be sure. What they do with it all is anyone’s guess, but it’s seriously valuable information to collect and possess.

I see all sorts of things come through our fulfillment center, in very large quantities, and I get a very good idea of what’s popular and can get a sense of what’s happening in America just by the patterns I see in items purchased in such large volumes by America and the world itself. But primarily America. We’re the big consumers. We aren’t the manufacturers, though by a long shot. I’d estimate 99% of every single item Amazon sells was made in China. That’s pretty serious if you think about it. Most people don’t because it means they can get what they want inexpensively, and fast, which is all they’re concerned with. But there are some grave implications for Americans buying every single thing we own from China. It’s usually designed here, prototyped here, then outsourced overseas, and then shipped back to us. Coincidentally, a good friend of mine rode in on the biggest container ship on the East Coast as it docked at the Ports Authority in Charleston, SC today. It’s massive. And full of junk we ordered from China. And another good friend of mine’s husband was one of the harbor pilots that helped bring that ship into the harbor. I miss Charleston.

I signed a document saying I wouldn’t reveal people’s addresses and names, and of course, I wouldn’t do that. But I can give out some details of what I see a lot of people buying and some interesting things I notice, seeing the number of items we process through our center. Hundreds of thousands of things a day.

But there are some noticeable patterns and things I notice.

Our center distributes smaller items like jewelry, clothing, shoes, electronics, books, and a bazillion other things. We don’t sell things like kayaks, bicycles, and weird big objects. Just things that can be boxed and bagged and shipped quickly. Hundreds of thousands of them a day. Our facility is on several floors and a million square feet, which is about 28 football fields. Today I walked almost 16 miles in our building according to the pedometer on my iPhone. 36,304 steps. How many jobs can let you do that?

So here are some things I’ve noticed working there over the past 7 months or so. I process a little less than 50,000 items a month. But I see a lot more than that that comes through there. And for the most part, it’s a lot of the same “type” stuff, and brands, and I try to spot buying patterns as well. Having the country on lockdown from the Coronavirus has led to the purchase of a lot of things that I don’t think usually are bought so much, which I’ll get to.

The first thing is we sell a lot of clothing. A LOT. And it’s easy to notice one thing, which is the sizing and how much material some of these bits of clothing have. Sizes like XXL up to 6XL aren’t uncommon. XL and 2XL, 3XL are very common, and I see Levi’s jeans with sizes that are waists of 58-60 inches and inseams of 30 inches. That’s a Weeble-Wobble. A lot of yoga pants, a lot of fleece and sweat pants, that all have names like “Peak Performance” which crack me up. The only performing the people wearing size 3XL sweat pants are doing is moving from their couch to the kitchen to the toilet. 6XL “club outfits.” The amount of denim in some of these packages of jeans is enough to build a sail for a boat with. America is very fat. And a lot of the clothing we sell revolves around that fact. Lots of fleece, loungewear, sweat pants, pullovers, and gigantic outfits of all types. And a lot of “clubwear” which is very tight fitting revealing clothing for oversized gals. Lots of corsets, plus-sized this and that. Lots of costumes and “sexy” cosplay outfits being sold. A lot of transgender accessories and kinky things that I won’t get into.

We also sell a lot of home tattoo and piercing kits. And body modification sets with all types of rings and bars to put through holes made in bodies. Where this trend came from I have no idea. But we’re selling a lot of it. People are piercing and tattooing their very overweight bodies. Blue jeans that are all ripped up looking are popular, too, which is funny to me. I’m not sure what “look” the people buying ripped up jeans are going for. Poor and homeless?

But there are certain brands that are VERY popular. If you are going to invest in brands these are the ones that are solid and on fire right now. Polo/Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, Under Armour, Puma, Lilly Pulitzer, North Face, Nike, Spanx, and Burton. Amazon sells a LOT of those brands.
And of course, Amazon has Amazon Essentials and Good Threads and its own line of items which makes Amazon a strong investment as well. We sell a gazillion Timex and Casio G-Shock watches, too. The good old brands that have been around for along time have held up well. If you were looking to buy stocks, these companies would be good long buys.

sorters at Amazon

With everyone staying inside because of this virus, I guess people are feeling sexy. Because Amazon sells a TON of adult/sexy items that you wouldn’t believe. I won’t even get into a lot of the things that we sell a lot of because of decorum, but it’s incredible. A lot of weird things are going on in America’s bedrooms.

And with it being an election year and racism being a hot issue in the media all the time, I see a lot of Trump gear selling. Not much Biden. But a LOT of Trump. And I see a lot of books that the left are buying. A lot of Black Lives Matter buttons. And Antifa gear.

I saw a book today that I can’t stop thinking about though. This one: 

Here’s the link: https://smile.amazon.com/Dont-Think-Elephant-Values-Debate/dp/B000A5CJZ4/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1600648278&sr=1-2

I stopped what I was doing a glanced through this “New York Times Best Seller.” It made me laugh out loud. LOL. I love satire, and this book, unbeknownst to the author, was satirical of itself.

This has been spawned from the internet I assure you. The utter lack of self-awareness of the author, the topic, and the entire thing is just hilarious. And it’s what I see so many people do, and it explains why there’s such a divergence in America about the best way we should go about solving societal, economic, political(which is a catalyst as well) and cultural problems.

We have one group of people who know how things actually work: the mechanisms, infrastructure, and history of the efforts of our forefathers before us that have told us what has already worked and what failed. And most progressives these days want to erase all that so there’s no way to cite or reference it authentically. So we’re dooming ourselves to repeat it.  But there are people who know finance, government, banking, regulations, economic laws, the law itself/civics, as to know what is possible legally and what’s not and how things are derived in the US, and an overall education as to be able to know the consequences of taking certain proper, and certain improper actions. People that know, for example, what will happen if the minimum wage is raised to a certain point. One group knows the people, demographics, businesses, unintended consequences, and fallout that will occur because they’re educated and experienced.

Then you have another group who knows nothing about this. A foreign, scary world. Money grows on trees group. I’m noticing this group has a lot of the following types of people in it: liberal arts majors, coddled children, academics, politicians, dropouts, and ignorami. As evidenced by this very book, the world’s problems aren’t caused, governed, or manipulated by laws and precedent and action that causes an equal reaction. No!

What the problem is is that it isn’t FRAMED correctly. The issues aren’t being debated properly, which is why there’s friction. Instead of going back and learning how things should work right, instead of blaming the way they are presented and focus on the vernacular and language that FRAMES the ideas. This book teaches you how to argue using crap as your evidence, instead of learning that the other person may be correct, learn to argue your poor stance better! It’s Monty Python.

I looked up who the author of this book was out of curiosity. Who on Earth thinks this way? George Lakoff. A name that begs to be made fun of. And it’s no surprise at all to learn that someone who thinks how the debate is framed is more critical than the ideas and reasoning within the frame is academic. And he believes when not “framed” properly, conservative ideas are correct and prudent and reasonable, which they are. It’s just a matter of “reframing” them so that the truth and reality cease to matter.

This guy has spent his whole life in school on campus and the most liberal ones around, so he hasn’t ever been up to the surface to breathe fresh air, ever. Berkley, Harvard, etc… Unbelievable. A Doctorate in Linguistics. Makes sense he knows nothing about business, finance, economics, or how things really work in the real world.

But back to the world of hyperconsumerism in America.

A lot fo this country looks a lot alike. They wear a lot of masks sold by Bloch. A lot of North Face Sweatshorts and hoodies with large NF logos. A lot of Burton clothes, but don’t actually snowboard. A lot of HUGE Wrangler and Levi’s “slim-fit” stretch jeans, with waists sizes of 40″+. A lot of Loungewear, like fleece pants, black Yoga pants made by one manufacturer I don’t recognize, Fleece robes(XXL), and tie-dyed tops and dresses(XXL+). A lot of Track Suits and Clubwear, which are outfits that emphasize busts and booties and are bright spectacular colors and patterns, like camo, Flagman yellow, and orange. A lot of Camouflage for some reason. I guess if you’re XXXXL size wearing camo is a good way to hide your elephantine physique.

A lot of wigs, for cosplay. A lot of cosplay stuff. A LOT. Fishnets, Steampunk. A lot of black plague doctor bird masks, for nightmare fuel. Which my ex-wife picked up our daughter wearing the last time we had an exchange for our 5-year-old daughter, which I thought was inappropriate and represented the mental state she’s in.

A lot of kind of retro stuff, like Vans shirts and shoes, tie-dye, and ripped up blue jeans for women and kids. The legs have lots of horizontal tears going across them, which looks like something background actors wore in the 1980’s cheesy horror movies. Lots of leopard prints. the ’80s are making a groaning resurgence. I see African themed garments, which are all made in China. I see a lot of Eastern Indian traditional garments, which are very pretty and nice. Very ornate and richly colored with a lot of intricate accessories to go with them. I like them a lot personally and think they would go well if you were decorating a room in Bohemian or gypsy or craftsman style decor. Indian rugs and dark woods with earthy patterns and colors.

Along with all the relaxed lounge-wear for blobby bodies comes a ton of body-shaping items for when women go outdoors. So I see a LOT of corsets, Spanx body-shaping lycra hosiery, and mechanisms to tuck and hide the flab. So many corsets you’d think Madonna was in town. Giant bras. And speaking of which, we sell a frightening amount of fake silicone breasts. I mean, a LOT. Enough to make me embarrassed to walk among the women that work at Amazon for wonder of what they must think of us men. I see the delivery addresses of where they’re going, and it’s all men. Going to California, Pennsylvania, Texas, and NY mostly.

feminique - fake boobs

I don’t know what they cost, but I’ll bet they aren’t cheap. And they come in different sizes. Some of the boxes weigh a ton. It just goes right over my head. But it certainly makes you wonder some things.

We sell a lot of gay pride stuff including Calvin Klein’s “pride” edit underwear. There are a lot of LGBT activists that work at Amazon. None of it bothers me. Everyone is entitled to live their life as they please. I applaud individuality and recoil from mindless conformity. Which is why I have no tattoos and never will. The shirts, flags, rainbow accessories, and, yes, tattoos, that announce the fact you aren’t heterosexual are confusing to me, though. When someone’s identity is so reliant upon their sexuality, I don’t think that makes for a happy life. I mean, I know it’s none of my business, but I certainly don’t plan on spending my time, money, and energy letting the world know I’m heterosexual by means of flags, bracelets, bumper stickers, parades, groups of other people that are formed for the distinct purpose of focusing on heterosexual ideologies, and making sure the world knows I’m OK with anyone that doesn’t share my natural predispositions. There are bigger and better areas in life to spend my resources.

This time of year, hunting season, there’s a lot of Carhartt Jackets and gear sold. It’s good quality and durable. An endless amount of Crocs in every shade and pattern. The person that came up with that idea is a wealthy person, I assure you. And probably never wears Crocs. They’re awful.

The data Amazon has about each thing it sells must be worth a fortune. Knowing the buying habits and preferences of people with the amount of data, which makes for some serious accuracy when performing regression analysis and making predictive graphs and scatter plots, is like being able to predict the future of retail buying. It’s Business Intelligence gold. The knowledge I have from working there is substantial, and I love being able to use consumer psychology and social science to interpret what’s going on. I wish I could get hold of the actual data though. Like just about every other business person on Earth. But I can remember what I process working there, which is a lot.

 

 

 

Key Takeaways Working at Amazon

Key Takeaways Working at Amazon

One of the many nice things about working at Amazon is that I have a lot of time to think while I work. You need to be focused on what you’re doing, of course, but it’s the kind of work where there’s a lot of muscle memory involved, which allows you to get into a groove, and while you’re working away, you can start getting into some pretty deep thought about things. Part of my job is “picking,” which is going around and grabbing items people have ordered and loading them onto totes to put on conveyors to be evaluated, packed, loaded, and shipped out. I do a lot of picking and packing. I’m fast at both, and when I do it, I almost go into a trance where I’m hustling about doing my job, and at the same time, I’ll be thinking about all sorts of life concerns.

I do a lot of my best thinking when I’m walking because the blood is pumping to my brain, and I’m alert. Very alert. I work hard and fast, so the adrenaline is going, and the juices are flowing, and I’m focused. So I’ve learned that I can come up with some excellent thoughts while I work, which is another reason I like working there. I’m going to miss it, honestly.

One of the reasons I like it is because everything there is the best. It’s not the fanciest or most elegant, but it’s the best. Tools and vests are DeWalt, for example. The company has a lot of money, and it spends it on where it should. Everything is kept in tip-top shape, and it’s kept clean and working, and the temperature is very comfortable, and working there is pleasurable. You have to understand what it could be like, and is like, at other such companies doing the same things to have an appreciation for Amazon. When you used to think of “warehouse jobs,” you were talking about dark, dusty, dirty, rat-infested, hot, noisy metal and concrete buildings with filthy, cracked old cement floors. It smelled bad, had safety hazards everywhere, and was run by people that cut corners and, let’s say, weren’t focused on their jobs. Whether that was because of being on drugs, unhappy about being there, or just slack, or all of the above, it makes for a pretty poor work area. There are lots of places like that out there. Amazon is nothing like that, and for the young people that work there, they have no idea how nice Amazon’s operations are.

When you have as much money as Amazon does, everything is done right and done well. It’s often seamless and invisible. It just happens. Everything is kept clean and neat and loaded and working, and there’s no dust, grime, or germs anywhere in that building. It’s disinfected every day around 6 am, and everything is constantly wiped down, cleaned, and sanitized. There are workers constantly wiping down every nook and cranny and piece of equipment with sanitizing wipes there. It’s not just tidy. It’s sparkling clean. You could build semiconductors in that warehouse, which is crazy, as big and busy, and as much that goes on there. A lot of dirty people milling about moving a lot of dirty boxes and pallets and items: Amazon spends a lot of money and time making sure people are safe and healthy. LOTS. You can read all about it on Amazon’s blog.

They pay a lot of attention to the temperature there, which is really nice. The air control there is outstanding. Fans and cold air and huge tubes of conditioned air being spread and fanned about the building strategically. Where the inventory is, there are high-output fans that blow down the aisles, carrying airconditioned air from the giant outlets along the side of the building. Massive propellor fans spin around at the top of the ceiling in the open areas. Long sea-worm-looking tubes of air with holes along the sides and ends are distributed along with the packing stations. Keeping a building like that comfortable with that many people and machinery working in it has to be a massive effort. Amazon asks us how we like the temperature in there often, to make sure we’re happy with it. It makes a big difference. For one thing, the inventory has to be kept at a reasonable temperature. But that building’s temperature and air circulation are outstanding. It’s probably too cold for some of the women that work there, but for the hard workers and the many people who, let’s say, are quite overweight, the cold temperature is awesome. It really makes a huge difference between what could be Hell and what’s like being on vacation. It’s really something. It’s like a brisk fall day in there. One funny thing I notice is that the overweight workers that stock the bins all congregate in aisles where the coldest air blows out, like sea creatures all gang around volcanic releases of warm water deep down in the ocean.

One thing I think about is the shrinkage factor, meaning items that go “missing.” The building houses what must be a billion dollars worth of goods at any given time. You wouldn’t believe all the things that are stored there. It’s all categorized and put into cardboard drawers, and there isn’t a lot of rhyme or reason s to where things go sometimes. Bras might be in a drawer with charging cables and books and a box of cat food. But it’s all accounted for with ASINs. The items’ whereabouts are tracked throughout with scanners and travel through the building in big yellow totes. There are so many yellow totes in that building I’m sure they would stretch to the moon and back.

And the totes travel around on conveyors scanned by lasers and air and move throughout the place. Miles of conveyors. All leading to the core of the building. It’s one way I know how to get around there; follow the direction of the conveyors. They all lead to the “heart” of the building. And from there, they’re parsed out to the packers to process and prepare for distribution. The engineering is pure genius.

So back to controlling theft. With so many items around and that many employees in that big building, it seems like the theft would be rampant. We sell small items, too, like jewelry, accessories and clothing, and electronics. You’d think Amazon would be getting robbed blind.

But they don’t. There are security cameras everywhere for one thing. But traditional security isn’t what keeps shrinkage down. What does is a combination of a few factors.

One is that workers are kept so busy that they don’t have time to take anything. If you’re really doing your job, you don’t have time to pause and evaluate how to “steal” something, which brings up the point where the thief would put it. Most items can’t be shoved into a pocket. Bags aren’t generally allowed in the building. Women bring clear bags with their things in them. And most of the items are packaged, so you don’t even know what’s in them anyway. You’ll know the ASIN, and some general descriptors, like color, brand, size, etc… but nothing to indicate the value. Very plain generic packaging with a general description and an ASIN assigned to it. But there’s no time to steal if you wanted to. You’re timed from picking point o the next, and once you’ve grabbed your item, it’s off ot the next bin. And when you’re packing, it’s just a flurry of putting items in bags and boxes and applying shipping manifests on them and onto the conveyor to the shipping department they go.

I notice a few things around there. One is all the diversity. Everyone who wants to be an individual by applying tattoos and coloring their hair and getting strange haircuts, just like everyone else, is there. I must be the only person without a single tattoo. Some must spend all their money on tattoos because they’re covered. Male, female, in between, whatever. And lots of piercings, nose, lips, eyebrows, and stretching out the earlobe like play-doh. When they come in without jewelry, and it’s just dangling, it looks so, so nice.

People of the same culture seem to be able to find one another without any problem. When I’m picking items for packing, I’m hustling around the bins and will see groups of people talking in their native language. Spanish is common. But there are a lot of Africans that work there, with a very foreign tongue. No Europeans anywhere. I hear a lot of Spanish. And I see a lot of French on monitors. Women wear the full hajib ensemble, covering every inch of their bodies. At the same time, they pick and pack lace corsets and all kinds of sexy clothing and accessories and trinkets and toys and erotic items.

A secret Amazon has is that it sells a TON of sexual goodies. Whatever your desire, they have you covered. I see some eye-opening products coming through that warehouse, which I won’t get into due to decorum. But there are a lot of people having a lot of fun out there. And there are a lot of twisted people out there. Cosplay is HUGE. As is bondage. Who knew?

Walking through the building reminds me of walking around NYC and going through the ethnic districts, back when you could safely walk around NYC. You hear all sorts of dialects and see lots of traditional clothing, which Amazon sells. And is made in China. Nearly everything going through that center was made in China. I picked out a Dashiki ensemble the other day. That was made in China. And I see lots of “African” clothing that’s made in China. It begs the question, at what point does it just become a costume? China is supplying America with anything we can dream via Amazon.

Something that’s equally as hard to come to terms with is the sizing of clothing Amazon sells. There are a lot of familiar brands that go through there. The North Face is doing HUGE business. So is Spanx. And Under Armour. Burton’s another. If you wanted to invest in stocks, those are some solid players: champion, PUMA, and Levi’s. And I constantly see 5XL and 3XL, and I saw a 50-inch waist and 30 inseam for jeans, until the other day I saw a pair of 60/30 jeans. There’s no way someone that has a waist twice the inseam is putting on jeans by themselves. I need video.

But America is FAT. And shameless about it. Buying “clubbing” clothes in 3XL. Bright yellow and neon green and sequins everywhere are unnecessary when you’re the size of a house. I’m amazed by the clothing I see bought. The amount of material that goes into them is enough to set up a circus tent. People’s pants are packaged like sailboat sails. I’m not kidding.

Incidentally, the lights on each row of bins will light up when you approach and go off as you leave to save energy. Like at the grocery store. That’s gotta save some major $. And in the packing area on the Mezzanine, the lights will brighten and fade/shade as if you’re outdoors and the clouds are going in front of the Sun. You notice it sometimes, but I have to imagine that’s intentional. We have windows, but they’re microscopic compared to the building’s size, so there’s not much functionality to them.

The building is immense. And it’ll play tricks on your brain. Everything there is standardized and a lot of stuff looks similar so you’ll see engineering repeated throughout. and there aren’t a lot of decorations or things you can use as mile markers to get your bearings. It reminds me of deep-sea diving when you get so deep you lose the light of the Sun, so you don’t know which way is up. You have to use instruments. And bubbles. It’s a similar experience astronauts must experience in space, being weightless and having no “up” “down” or horizon to position yourself. You’ll find yourself in the building with nothing to grasp onto to find your way out. It’s crazy.

Something else worth noting, albeit anecdotal, is that there is a TON of Donald Trump stuff selling. Coins, flags, pins, hats, shirts, you name it. There is tiny Biden/Harris coming through. Quite a bit of #BLM stuff, like buttons and rubber bracelets and ANTIFA, wear for scrawny 120 lb. nerds that have decided to come out of the basement and try their LARP moves on real people that will crush them into gorilla cookies. I also see a lot of steampunk clothing moving through there, which makes me wonder who these people have so much time on their hands and money to squander that they can get dressed up and go around looking steampunky? Government employees are the only possible answer I can come up with.