One Amazon Order, Three Identical Units, Three Shipping Boxes

Earlier I shared a tale of wasteful packaging from McMaster-Carr: using their standard box and bag system to ship a single little spacer. It’s not great, but there was a reason for the situation: the single part replaced a flawed component in an earlier (less wastefully packaged) order.

And now a different story from Amazon, whose business success is dependent on the efficiency of their logistics system. So when I ordered six Traxxas remote control monster truck wheels, I had expected them to be packed in a single box.

This looks reasonable, right?

Traxxas tire shipping expectation

That is, unfortunately, not what happened. These wheels are sold in pairs, so my order for six wheels is an order for three identical pairs, and they came in three separate boxes (each with copious packing material) as show at the top of this post.

Thinking this was bizarre, I looked for clues as to how this situation might have come to be. Examining the labels on those boxes, I saw they originated from three different distribution centers. Did Amazon’s stocking system decide to keep a single pair of these wheels at every warehouse? That seems very strange, but that is the least strange explanation I can think of for the latest episode of unnecessary packaging. The second place guess is I ordered this product at the end of its stocking period, and just happened to catch the time when there’s a lone unit waiting at each of three nearby distribution centers. That seems quite unlikely, but the potential guesses are even less likely as we move down the list.

I doubt I’ll ever know the real answer, but it will continue to puzzle me.

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