Common Sense & Shipping Stuff


I ordered 4 of these (the 36") a little while back:

And – hooray – they sent 4…in four separate boxes, any one of which could have held all 4:

Makes me wonder how much consumers really pay for shipping? What a PITA for the delivery guy, too. And the landfill.


The delivery guy doesn’t care, guaranteed more employment.


Oh…there you are! :wink:


As someone who works for the purple and orange shipping co., I’m a okay with this.


But, if we put all 4 in one box, when the 1 in 10 box breaker hired at every shipping company breaks the box, he would break all 4. By splitting into multiple boxes, we are limiting the liability. Also, the shipping companies often give a $100 insurance kick back for a broken or damaged item at a cost you can’t opt out of. So you again might as well take advantage if you are forced to pay for it. :rofl::joy::sweat_smile:


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.


Our parts center has always done box inside a box, inside another box. They have recently got better a putting them in smaller boxes. A single SD card would be shipped in a box that was 10x10 with several boxes in it. However I normally order parts next day early am. Hospital’s, data centers, ect don’t like down time.


The computer industry underwent this shift many decades ago when computer time became less expensive than programmer time for most applications.


Used to work for a small manufacturer that did a side business in spare parts - both our in-house designs and commodity stuff. Minimum 400% markup on the commodity stuff, even more on our own parts. We got those things out as fast as practical and unless it had to go freight because of bulk/mass it was 2-day or better. If it was an end-user buying they generally didn’t care about the markup; if it was an independent servicing outfit they didn’t care either since they either passed it along with their own markup or that was just an implicit part of their service fees. Some probably made the jump to buying the commodity stuff on their own but that parts crib always generated modest profits month after month.

When I was working for Verizon they determined that for some of their core in-house applications it was cheaper to upgrade the cluster the applications ran on than optimize the code to address performance limitations.

With regards to my Wal Mart experience since it was ship-to-store with their own logistics on a whenever basis. Odds are they were primarily “wasting” packaging and what would have otherwise been empty space on a scheduled truck run. X ≤ 4 micro tasks to pull, 4 standardized micro tasks to box without the distraction of grouping them since the boxing phase may well have been performed in parallel, then off to loading onto truck(s) to arrive at the store which may well have received them separately and held them until the promised delivery date.