Monthly Archives: April 2012

How I got 18 boxes of a snack

Last week I was looking for buying a snack in bulk. Amazon was offering a pack of 8 at 0.24 cents/oz and with subscription it even comes down to 0.23 cents/oz. Being a prime member, it was almost a no brainer for me to buy it but I felt that the price was still expensive. So, after a bit of search I found that actually had it at 0.172 cents/oz and also sold individual packs ($2.58 per pack). But the catch is, I have to pay for shipping. But they also had free-shipping for orders above $45. Since I was considering this in bulk, I just put an order for 18 of them which cost $46.44 with free shipping. Obviously this is far better deal than what I was getting at Amazon even with subscription.

I got an order confirmation from Walmart and in a few hours I got an email that the order was shipped with the tracking numbers. Those of you who use Gmail, it scans for tracking numbers and displays them on the side. I saw 3 such numbers and thought that probably they couldn’t put all the 18 packs in the same box and so sending me in 3 boxes. So far so good.

Today the order actually arrived home. To my surprise, the order arrived in 18 separate boxes! Yes, that’s 18 of them individually packed with air pouches. I think the delivery person must have thought I was crazy :). I was even teased by family members.

The interesting thing for me is, did Walmart make any money off my order at all? Did they end up paying more money for shipping all those 18 individual boxes than the cost of the packs? I don’t know but as a consumer if I were to similarly ship those 18 boxes to someone else, I know that I would end up paying a lot.

So, what went wrong? I think it’s probably a software drawback. The software that drove the order fulfillment wasn’t smart enough to figure out that it should try to ship them in fewer boxes and reduce the cost of shipping. What about the humans who oversee this? I guess, they were just busy neck deep with all the work to even think anything otherwise and question the computer.

I wonder if the enterprise software systems developed in the last two to three decades are smart enough for the Internet.

One last thing, I went back to Gmail to see why I saw only three tracking numbers on the side. I don’t know for sure but looks like Gmail only shows the first 3 and ignores the rest. I hope they should have had a fourth line indicating “3 out of 18 displayed” and then I would have prepared myself and alerted my family to be ready for 18 boxes 🙂 of the snack.

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