I ordered 4 totes from Wal-Mart to be delivered to a nearby store. I forget if the quad-pack black wasn’t available or the unit price on singles was better so I ordered 4 single totes, assuming they’d be packaged in a single box since they nest relatively neatly and based on how they’re merchandised are delivered to stores in bulk when sold off the shelf.
I was wrong. They were delivered in individual boxes that were ~+6" in all dimensions so 24x18x12 totes were packaged in 30x24x18 boxes. Thankfully the clerk was happy to unpack them in the store and deal with the surplus packaging since I didn’t bring my truck for pickup.
I initially wondered WTF the fulfillment center was thinking but then I did a bit of digging into how their operations are tuned and realized that task efficiency is what they optimize for rather than net efficiency.
The modern high-volume fulfillment center isn’t how many of us likely think about warehouses with defined locations for stock and relatively steady SKU selection. The ideal might be to centralize all of one SKU in one location (bin) but the reality is that with fluctuating JIT inventories it’s going to be stocked in multiple locations. If it’s neither a high-volume item nor a small item then odds are pretty good that any one bin will have all of … one … SKU. Even if the item is stocked in sufficient quantity from a bin, the person/robot doing the pull might only have enough capacity for one more item.
Pulls get queued for packing and individual items can get separated. Odd-sized/shaped items might not group into bundles that fit into larger single boxes. Your shipment might end up split between trucks - or between carriers (this happened to me once - ordered 4 of something - UPS delivered 3 and the USPS delivered the 4th).
Of course, the choices that so many e-commerce marquees offer on shipping are ridiculous. Next-day for a steep premium. 2-day for a lesser premium or free. Whenever we can finally be bothered for some pittance discount - or in the case of Amazon credit towards digital offerings.
Also, to the original post - I know Optics Planet has diversified their offerings since I last bought from them a decade ago, but I don’t imagine that bar clamps are something they handle in the same volume as rifle scopes, red dot sights, flashlights, and the like. Perhaps they’ve not optimized their processes around these items.