I’d like to take a tour of an Amazon warehouse! I placed an order on December 21 at midnight and got the shipping confirmation at 10:30 in the morning. How do they do that?

This was Amazon’s best holiday season ever, with more than 99 percent of orders shipped on time worldwide, more than 3.9 million units shipped on one day alone. On December 10, 5.4 million items were ordered in a single day. Nintendo Wii systems were hard to find; Amazon sold their stock at the rate of approximately 17 per second until sold out.

The BBC did a brief segment about one of Amazon UK’s warehouses, giving a glimpse of an army of pickers moving through millions of items on shelves stretching off forever. (The BBC’s video player can be made to show the clip, although it took me several times to get past blank screens where ads were supposed to be. I was not amused.)

Here are some photos of impressively large piles of cartons at an Amazon US warehouse, and here’s an article about Amazon’s systems from a couple of years ago. It’s just remarkable, isn’t it?