Normally, we see stores and warehouses organized by section – Cereals, Cheese, Fruit. This makes sense because as humans, it's easier to find everything if it's organized logically for us.
Amazon is changing that.
Their new service, "Prime Now," promises thousands of items delivered to you in around an hour.
That level of immediacy and activity creates an interesting set of logistical problems. For example, how would you organize the warehouse to enable that level of service? The answer might surprise you.
The answer is you don't. If you walked into one of Amazon's PrimeNow warehouses, you'd see a bunch of pods with random items next to each other. You might find cleaning supplies next to a children's toy, or maybe even an adult toy.
While this may seem weird or counter-intuitive … with numerous "shoppers" all going through the warehouse at the same time, if the warehouse was organized by category or popularity, the result would be traffic jam bottlenecks and less throughput.
By organizing items randomly, and having the list of items ready ahead of time, Amazon's computers can create an optimum path for each "shopper" that takes into account the position of the items, where the checkout is, and where other shoppers are grabbing items.
That optimum path is critical in getting your order on time. This is another example of organized chaos – where human logic (or common sense) is not the most efficient or effective path to an optimal solution.