Sunday, July 17, 2005

Wasteful Amazon shipping

I may be Amazon's best customer (I'm currently in the process of filling in lots of gaps in my CD collection), but I'm not sure they're making money on me. It's not because of what I'm buying, or how much they're charging; it's because of how they're shipping it.

First off, you should know that I availed myself of the Amazon Prime program, where I get free two-day shipping on anything I order -- even onesies and twosies. I paid $79 for this benefit, but I quickly earned back that investment. Heck, I'd probably have paid that much in shipping charges in a single month, before the program.

But it's not Amazon Prime that's costing them money. (Oh, maybe it is, a little, but that's not the point of this rant.) It's how they ship their items -- specifically, how they ship single CDs and DVDs.

You see, Amazon ships a single CD in box big enough to hold a dozen or more CDs, or a couple of good-sized hardcover books. In goes the lonely little CD, surrounded by lots of air. It's not very efficient, it wastes a lot of cardboard, and it's sure to cost more to ship than would a properly-sized envelope or box. I'm sure they could save at least a few pennies per shipment if they used a less-wasteful package.

And they use a lot of these wasteful boxes. I might place two or three separate orders a day, and each CD I order comes in its own oversized box. The UPS guy leaves three big boxes on my doorstep, where a single smaller box would have done the trick. Costly for Amazon, and just plain wasteful for everyone. I end up throwing away a stack of cardboard boxes every week (they don't have recycling where I live), and feeling just a tad guilty for all those trees that had to die to ensure my listening pleasure. (Okay, not very guilty, but you get the point.)

So Amazon's not very efficient, which isn't necessarily new news, but it's still something they need to work on. This is one area where increasing their packing and shipping efficiency would not only be good for the environment, it would also save them money. But until they get their act together, I'll go on ordering my CDs and DVDs one item at a time, and letting Amazon pay for it.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

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