Amazon, known for being highly secretive, is opening up six of its 37 fulfillment centers to tours.
The tours were first revealed earlier last month in Amazon's annual letter to shareholders. Wrote Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, "I'm always amazed when I visit one of our (Fulfillment Centers), and I hope you'll arrange a tour. I think you'll be impressed."
Amazon has now set up an appointments page with tours available in: Chattanooga, TN; Chester, VA; Jeffersonville, IN; Middletown, DE; Phoenix, AZ; and San Bernardino, CA. The hour-long tours will be held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, beginning May 6. Online bookings began in mid-April and some locations are booked through 2015.
The appointment page reads, "Come see the magic that happens after you click buy on Amazon."
Like those of manufacturers, the tours could serve to market new products or as a branding tool. But the tours seem more designed to help improve the overall images of warehouses.
Amazon's fulfillment page notes:
Amazon's efforts to hire military veterans and its charitable efforts are also touted.
With Amazon opening warehouses across the country, the tours seemingly support recruiting efforts. But several columnists felt the tours were particularly designed to offset a series of critical reports in the past year over how warehouse employees are treated. A BBC report that ran last November said that working in a Wales warehouse could cause not only physical but also mental illness, claims Amazon refuted. In December, a unionization effort at its warehouse in Middletown, DE was voted down.
Speaking to CNNmoney, spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman declined to say if the tours had anything to do with working condition issues. She added, "We know customers are curious to see what happens after they click buy, and we're excited to show them."
What do you think is the primary reason Amazon is opening some of its warehouses for tours?