Christmas was a couple of days ago, so if you’re anything like me, you spent the past few weeks justifying the price of your Amazon Prime subscription and wondering why your package ended up in four different states around the country before showing up at your door. I still haven’t figured out an explanation for that mystery, but there is one shipping-related question I’ve finally found the answer to: Why does Amazon use ridiculously big boxes even when you’ve ordered something tiny?
I’ve received plenty of packages in the past where my purchases were perfectly nestled together, but I’ve also opened plenty of boxes that could theoretically be used to ship a small child across the country that ended up being filled with a ridiculous amount of crumpled brown paper surrounding an item the size of an iPhone.
I was never able to fully grasp the reasoning behind this but assumed I’d have just as much success at getting to the bottom of this mystery as I have trying to figure out why you get a seven-foot-long receipt after purchasing a packet of gum at CVS. However, I came across a tweet that actually offered some insight into the decision making process.
The comment originally appeared in a thread on Reddit after someone posted a picture of a gift card that was delivered in an appropriately sized box. Because the internet is the internet, plenty of people have disputed that this is an accurate explanation, with many noting this theory falls apart when you consider the multiple vehicles that are used to transport your purchase.
However, it appears the comment is only referring to the arrangement of boxes when they first leave the Amazon warehouse. An article in Technology Review said Amazon’s computer system automatically assigns a box size when your items are picked off the shelf, and if this theory is to be believed, the goal is for the initial delivery trucks to be filled as efficiently as possible before they depart the fulfillment center.
Someone who claims to have worked at Amazon disputed this explanation, and plenty of people in the ensuing thread disputed that disputation, so if we’re being honest, I don’t actually have a fucking clue if this is true or not.
With that said, this is the best explanation I’ve heard to explain the absurdly-sized boxes, so I’m just going to roll with it.