From: Fast Company Issue 74 September 2003, Page 38
By: Lucas Conley
There are no Nerf balls or cappuccino makers at the Worcester hub. More striking, given the hub's stock of 90,000 DVDs, there are no shelves. "I came from a traditional warehousing background," says O'Handley. "I was like, 'Okay, I want Shrek ; I'm going to go to slot S-407 . . . right?' " He smiles at his innocence. "Not so."
Instead, an ingenious daily dance takes place. Each morning at 8:00, the U.S. Postal Service (cheaper and quicker than the alternatives, incredibly) drops off "pumpkin carts," orange bins with thousands of returned DVDs from all over New England. Operators scan the discs, collecting returns data, which computers at Netflix's San Jose headquarters match to new orders. After lunch, the Worcester operators rescan every disc in their inventory; with each scan, they act on instructions from San Jose to "Ship Disc," if a customer wants the film, or "Scan Tomorrow," if not.
Presorting saves Netflix six to seven cents per DVD, O'Handley says.