You'll get your Black Friday bargain a little faster — how Amazon is using AI to speed up postage

Amazon turns to AI and robotics
(Image credit: Amazon)

More than 70 million customers will have grabbed a bargain on Cyber Monday with companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy. This was on top of demand from Black Friday the week prior. To ensure customers get products on time, Amazon has turned to AI for help.

The company says up to 400 million products are shipped per day between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This comes as people look for that bargain on headphones or a chance to grab a cut-price iPad.

To beat the rush Amazon uses an AI tool called SCOT to ensure it has enough of any single item in stock, robotics to pick and pack items, and intelligent route mapping to speed up delivery.

Amazon vice president for last-mile delivery, Scot Hamilton, described Cyber Monday as "our Super Bowl", that requires months of training. "AI helps us with everything we do leading up to this day and on the day itself,” he added.

Using generative AI to predict demand

Before a single order is placed Amazon says its goal is to ensure it has enough of everything in stock to meet the demand. This is not an easy task, especially with billions of items likely to be shipped over the week.

This is where SCOT comes into its own. The full name ‘Supply-Chain Optimization Technology’, SCOT does most of the heavy lifting in this area. Made up of a series of deep learning and massive datasets, it decides which products to stock in which warehouse.

AI helps us with everything we do leading up to this day and on the day itself.

Scot Hamilton, Amazon

"It is meant to be something you don’t see or feel, but it’s as critical as oxygen. When you don’t realize it’s there, that means it’s working perfectly," said Hamilton.

Using similar natural language processing techniques to those in ChatGPT, Amazon can now make broader predictions beyond what has been purchased before and into what customers use, looking at responses, speed of sale and even what is looked at and not purchased.

Getting it to the customer

Amazon deals

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Amazon says a combination of better stock prediction, improved robotics inside the warehouse, and AI-powered driver route planning has meant time from order to delivery is faster than ever.

The company claims that packages in same-day warehouses can be prepared for dispatch in just 11 minutes of an order being placed.

Tye Brady, Amazon Robotics' chief technologist said, "AI will touch just about every piece of our supply chain.”

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Ryan Morrison
AI Editor

Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he'd much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom's Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover. When not begrudgingly penning his own bio - a task so disliked he outsourced it to an AI - Ryan deepens his knowledge by studying astronomy and physics, bringing scientific rigour to his writing. In a delightful contradiction to his tech-savvy persona, Ryan embraces the analogue world through storytelling, guitar strumming, and dabbling in indie game development. Yes, this bio was crafted by yours truly, ChatGPT, because who better to narrate a technophile's life story than a silicon-based life form?