Rock Center | November 29, 2012
>> kay they sell just about anything, and for those who can't wait, they can get just about anything the next day. they serve as their own economic indicator. harry smith figured if he could get inside amazon , he could see what americans are buying right now.
>> reporter: don't tell the little ones, but santa is doing some outsourcing. christmas has gotten so big, what with the polar ice caps melting and all, lo and behold, much of his work is now done in arizona. while the people you see scurrying about look suspiciously like people, they are elves. elves not with tiny hammers and saws, but with bar codes and carts.
>> this is just one of 40 places like this amazon has across the country. it's not a distribution center , it's not a warehouse. in the language of amazon , it is a fulfillment center .
>> reporter: this is where people get what they want, or if you prefer, have their dreams fulfilled.
>> all these products you see back here are future christmas presents.
>> dave clark is amazon 's manager of global fulfillment. he showed us around to a place the size of 28 football fields.
>> this is mind boggling, just the amount. this is half the building and there's three floors of this.
>> reporter: miles of ooiaisles of stuff. 2.3 million square feet in no certain order. the stuff is on the shelf it
sits on for one reason alone: because it fits.
>> humans are really good at taking this and deciding what space it fits in.
>> so it makes sense that the one box of golf balls is over here by the grape jelly.
>> yes, because it fits perfectly there.
>> this is crazy.
>> reporter: made all the more complicated by the fact that amazon tries to stock everything they can get their hands on, a variety bordering on the infant, the boast of the christmas present. is the goal of amazon to carry at least one of everything?
>> our goal is definitely to have the biggest selection and to carry everything anyone wants any time.
>> reporter: that's a far cry from the old sears catalog , the wish book . maybe it just seemed like it had everything. we would ogle and wonder just how good a kid would you have to be to get a j.c. higgins bike. does amazon really have everything? as a kid i used to dream that santa would bring me a daisy air rifle . and guess what? they have them. i don't know. you'll shoot your eye out.
>> you'll shoot your eye out, kid.
>> you know what, santa has nothing on you.
>> we like to think we help santa as much as possible.
>> reporter: and you do. kindles of every kind. dr. seuss the lorax dvd. and an actual book, dyeiary of a wimp i kid number 7. a needle can be picked from a haystack if you have amanda borchin as your guide. amanda hunts and gathers, and all the while, the bar codes tell the machines where everything will end up, even what size box the orders will go in. but in order to finish the job, it takes real human beings to wrap the christmas gifts?
>> it does. the holidays is about gifts. this is something they wrap with care for another person. you know a machine-wrapped gift from a human-wrapped gift, and it's not the same.
>> so this is how amazon loads its sleighs, so to speak. the boxes come in here, the bar code reads the box, the box gets put in the right chute which will take it to the right airplane, which will bring the package to an airport near you.
>> reporter: that is, if you order on time. do you have reindeer?
>> not that we publicly announce. those are for those last-minute shipments for people who really need the help. that's when we pull the reins.
>> reporter: but don't press your luck. so other than getting me one of those vests, i have two thoughts. i am a customer, like seemingly everybody. you order jelly, it's been great for ups, but a jet basically has to get it to your house. and number two, a lot more second party providers. it's weird to order from amazon . a box shows up from herb shendrik from ohio.
>> the place is filled with that sort of stuff, but as to your earlier question, they've done some studies on that, and they say by the time you fill up the car with gas, and go to the mall and go from point a to point b to point c to point d, it's probably