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AMZN: Ops Excellence

Two recent Amazon observations.

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1. Many news sources ran stories this week headlined, "Amazon says 2008 'best ever' holiday sales". Everyone wants to find a bright spot in this difficult retail season, of course. When you trace the story back to the AMZN press release, you find 'best ever' means record-setting item volume:

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 26, 2008--Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced the 2008 holiday season finished as its best ever, with over 6.3 million items ordered worldwide on the peak day, Dec. 15, which is a record-breaking 72.9 items per second.

Single day record-breaking item volume need not imply seasonal record sales or seasonal record profits. This year, it probably doesn't. No matter. This is still an amazing feat. 6.3 million items in one day?!? Mind-boggling. Amazon has ops down pat, arguably the best fulfillment and warehouse systems in the world.

2. My kids recently received a gift certificate for another large online bookseller. We helped them choose books and ordered on 12/24. All the books were in-stock and ready to ship. However, the order didn't ship until 12/30, and has an estimated arrival date of 1/6.

My kids are mystified by having to wait this long. My family usually buys books from Amazon, and we're members of Amazon Prime , so we've gotten used to seeing books on the doorstep two days after the click.

Executing that well, so often, that nearly-instant shipping becomes the expectation -- incredible.

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