Amazon Warehouse General Manager Prateek Dahiya speaks with Yahoo Finance’s Allie Garfinkle at Amazon’s Oxnard facility about Black Friday and Cyber Monday volumes, hiring, deals, and what it’s like inside the warehouse amid the holiday shopping season.
BRIAN SOZZI: Amazon is gearing up for a big cyber week, even as signs mount that consumers are spending cautiously this holiday season. Let's go right out to California, where we find Yahoo Finance tech reporter Allie Garfinkle inside an Amazon warehouse. Allie?
ALLIE GARFINKLE: Hi, Brian. I'm here in Oxnard, California, at OXR1, and I'm here with Prateek Dahiya. He is the general manager of this warehouse that's been ramping up for Cyber Monday. So Prateek, thank you so much for being here.
PRATEEK DAHIYA: I appreciate it.
ALLIE GARFINKLE: So tell me about what it takes to prepare for Cyber Monday for your-- from your perspective.
PRATEEK DAHIYA: Yeah, Cyber Monday and Black Friday are the most-- one of the most important days for Amazon. It starts the peak season for-- for the holidays. So really, really, a lot of things go into preparing for these amazing days, so starting with getting the right freight and all the inventory that consumers want to buy. So we start that about a month ago. Then we start hiring, which we ramped up around 1,000 associates here in this building. And then we, of course, start planning with our central teams and support partners and of course our amazing transportation vendors, both at Amazon and outside to start delivering those smiles to our customers.
ALLIE GARFINKLE: And you hired quite a bit, actually. You said in summer, you had about 1,500 employees. And now you have about 2,500.
PRATEEK DAHIYA: Yeah.
ALLIE GARFINKLE: Tell me about that process.
PRATEEK DAHIYA: Yeah, we are a relatively new building. We started in January of this year. So of course, ramping up from 1,500 associates in the summer to about 2,500 plus was a great effort, and we really appreciate the community that we are a part of. So we had almost 70% of our associates from this tri-county coastal area, which is a part of Ventura, Camarillo, and Oxnard. So great efforts, word of mouth, references from all the associates who were already working, and that's how we got here. And we're looking forward to ramp up again for the forthcoming peak seasons.
ALLIE GARFINKLE: And talk to me about the stakes of the Cyber Monday. How important is Cyber Monday for you, especially in a holiday season where people were-- consumer slowdown has really been something that's talked about?
PRATEEK DAHIYA: No, it's super important. It's a-- it's a very important day. Cyber Monday is traditionally one of the biggest shipping days for Amazon, and we started great with Black Friday. So definitely, it sets the tone for the peak season, and we are looking forward to increasing demand from consumers. Amazon is still one of the best places where consumers want to use low prices and amazing selection and faster delivery speeds to get their gifts for their loved ones.
ALLIE GARFINKLE: And then talk to me about, you know, Amazon this past year has had some labor problems, particularly in New York, but I wanted to hear your perspective. What's your take on what it's like to work at an Amazon warehouse?
PRATEEK DAHIYA: Yeah, look, Amazon believes in direct relationship with associates, and we believe in direct engagement, which has been very positive in this particular building, for sure. As I said, we ramped up from 1,500 to 2,500 associates. And that's more from word of mouth. We see a lot of family and friend members working in the same building in the same shift.
We have a great employee relation with them. We offer great benefits from insurance and also from amazing other benefits that people, associates can take discounts outside Amazon as well. So we have a great partnership with our associates, and we would have not have them if that partnership did not exist between associates. So that's what we believe in, a direct relationship with associates and our management.
ALLIE GARFINKLE: And last question, is there anything different about this Cyber Monday?
PRATEEK DAHIYA: Well, I'm personally looking forward to some amazing electronic deals-- so a lot of amazing deals in health and wellness. Of course, outdoor has been very-- very big this year as people have started going out with the pandemic. So amazing selection. I personally have to look forward to them for myself and looking forward to buying myself a couple of items this year.
ALLIE GARFINKLE: Prateek, thank you so much. Back to you guys in the studio.
PRATEEK DAHIYA: Thank you so much.
JULIE HYMAN: And thank you, Allie. I appreciate it. Obviously, very busy day there.