Peek inside the San Marcos Amazon fulfillment center on Cyber Monday

On the floor of the Amazon fulfillment center in San Marcos, workers package boxes of customer orders Nov. 27, 2017 (KXAN Photo/Kate Winkle)
On the floor of the Amazon fulfillment center in San Marcos, workers package boxes of customer orders Nov. 27, 2017 (KXAN Photo/Kate Winkle)

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN/AP) — More and more people are turning to Cyber Monday to snag online deals, and online retail giant Amazon is busy churning out packages to ship to those customers.

People are expected to spend about $6.6 billion on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe Digital Insights. That’s a 16 percent increase from last year. Amazon alone sold 64 million items worldwide last year, and expects to top that number this year, according to spokeswoman Laura Gunning.

About 2,500 people work year-round at the company’s giant fulfillment center in San Marcos. That number jumps to 2,600 during peak season. On Monday morning people ran throughout the center — which is the size of 15 football fields and contains multiple stories — to fill orders in what Gunning called a “symphony of machines and people working together.”

When a customer clicks “buy” online, the order is processed and picked up by an associate who uses the computer system to call one of many robots that move shelves filled with inventory. Each shelf has a variety of items on it — not just a specific type like “toys” or “housewares” — and it moves close so the associate can grab what is in the order and place it into a bin. It travels through conveyor belts to the floor, where it’s hand-packaged and then shipped. Gunning said using robots as part of the process makes it more efficient and allows people to focus on more complicated tasks like picking and packaging.

“This is our Super Bowl,” Gunning said. ‘We gear up for this all year round, so the associates — there are smiles on their faces, we’re excited to get these to customers on time.”

The co-owners of Bright Beam Goods, an Austin-based company that makes laser-cut gifts, were invited to watch the excitement. Their company is part of Amazon Handmade, which connects artisans to customers around the world.

“It’s nice to be part of the crazy holiday action,” Kristen Von Minden said, showing off their popular stocking stuffers and gifts like a top people can make and decorate themselves, as well as brain-teaser puzzles.

Amazon is expected to capture half of all online sales growth, Bain & Co. reports, with the online giant offering similar deals to Black Friday. It is expected to heavily discount tech gadgets, as well as many others things like kitchen accessories, books, Lego sets, and Hasbro games. In the first half of Cyber Monday, customers ordered more than 3 million toys from Amazon — with the Speak Out game, in which people wear mouth pieces and try to say certain words, as the top-selling toy.

Target and Toys R Us also offered 15 percent off most items on their sites, and Walmart.com has tripled the amount of items available for sale from last year.

Adobe said a record $6.59 billion was spent online by the end of the day, with $2 billion spent using mobile devices. It says top-sellers included the Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4/4 Pro, Hatchimals and Colleggtibles figurines, PJ Masks, Apple AirPods, streaming devices and the Super Mario Odyssey game.

Online orders tend to peak between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Adobe says by that time, shoppers know what they want and are trying to get those deals before midnight.

 

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