Snippet: Destroying Unsold Products Isn’t a Scandal, It’s How Amazon Works ☇

Shared on July 11, 2022

Kevin Purdy for iFixit:

Amazon’s product shredding has been scrutinized before, but this time there are pictures. A former employee and surreptitious photos and video suggest 130,000 items per week are destroyed at one fulfillment center in Scotland. Half the items are still in their shrink wrap, the ex-employee tells ITV. Less than 30,000 other items in the same period were marked for donation.

It’s not an outlier. In France, a TV station found more than 3 million products destroyed in 2018. In Germany, one warehouse sends out a truckload every week for destruction. And those are just the stories that rose to the surface.

What’s driving companies to destroy their own inventory is seemingly Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), launched in 2006 and now a world-moving force. The program all but demands that companies let Amazon handle the storing, packing, shipping, and customer service for the products they sell on Amazon’s site. In exchange for paying a fee, and letting Amazon gather valuable metrics on what’s selling—sometimes resulting in Amazon making cheaper but almost identical products for its own sub-brands—the retail juggernaut ships and delivers your product with unbeatable speed. More importantly, your company ends up catching sales from the “Buy Box,” the iconic yellow/orange buttons on a product page. A customer could, if they wanted, click around on the tiny links to buy the same product from a different Amazon vendor, but almost nobody does.

Back 2008, Pixar’s WALL•E had us assuming the fictional Buy n Large was based on Walmart, but I think Amazon is a better comparison.

Snippets are posts that share a linked item with a bit of commentary.