Over six weeks, Amazon workers will deliver more than one million packages across Vancouver Island. And it takes months to prepare.
It’s the busiest time of the year for the workers inside the Amazon Distribution Centre in Sidney, and it’s estimated that 40,000 packages are delivered throughout the Island every day during the holiday season.
“From Black Friday onwards, Cyber Monday, we typically see an increase anywhere from 25 to 35 per cent in terms of total volume,” said operations manager Geoff Suter.
Suter says it’s taken months to prepare workers for the facility’s second holiday season. Training begins around September and October, getting them ready to handle a large influx of holiday orders.
Between Black Friday and the end of the first week of January, around 1.6 million packages will be sent off.
Packages are sorted the night before based on where they will be sent off too, with drivers leaving as early as 6 a.m.
“The packages that you see the most commonly are cat litter, Keurigs, and pressure cookers,” said Suter.
Before the facility’s opening last year, packages took about a week to arrive at people’s homes. However, with it now open and using an innovative delivery system, most packages can arrive between one and three days once at the Sidney facility.
Calling it a first in North America, Suter says that in the early morning, packages to be delivered to communities up Island, such as Nanaimo, are sent off to secondary centers via box trucks, which are immediately ready to load up inside delivery vans there.
“Because we’re servicing areas that are two, three-hour drive times, we’re unable to send them from here,” said Suter.
About 20 drivers leave the facility at a time, typically delivering within a 100-kilometre radius. Up Island, drivers can go as far as Campbell River. Anything further is sent by other delivery companies contracted by Amazon.
Experienced drivers like Shannon Music can have more than 100 stops on their route, with more than 120 parcels, but with better weather this year, she says the route is seamless.
“Last year, there was a blizzard the week of Christmas. I had to dig my van out 11 times in a day, so already this is a lot better than last year,” said Music.
About 75 workers are on the floor in the early morning, but this can grow to more than 100 associates depending on the shift, which makes one-day deliveries possible in certain locations on the Island.
“It’s like a very, very long Cyber Monday, Black Friday season,” added Suter.