TODAY | December 01, 2012
>>> space bigger than two dozen football fields and more than a million square feet inside. for the folks at amazon .com, it is the perfect place to hold just about everything the online retailer sells. this holiday season , you could call them santa 's very big helpers. harry smith takes us inside amazon 's holiday headquarters in phoenix.
>> reporter: don't tell the little ones, but santa is doing some outsourcing. christmas has gotten so big, what with the polar icecaps meltding and all, lo and behold much of his work is done in arizona. while the people you see scurrying about look suspicious like people, they are elves equipped with bar scanners and carts. this is just one of 40 places like this amazon has across the country. it's not a distribution center . it's not a warehouse. in the language of amazon , it is a fulfillment center . this is where people get what they want. or if you prefer, have their dreams fulfilled.
>> all this product and movement you're seeing back here are people's future christmas presents.
>> reporter: dave clark is amazon 's vice president of global customer fulfillment. he showed us around the place that is the size of 28 football fields. this is mind-numbing just the amount and the variety of stuff.
>> and this is half the building and there's three floors of this.
>> reporter: miles of aisles of stuff. 1.2 million square feet shelved in no discernible order. the stuff is on the shelf it fits on because of one reason, it fits.
>> humans are really good at taking this and deciding what space it fits in.
>> so it makes sense that the one box of golf balls is here over by the grape jelly.
>> because it fits perfectly for that.
>> reporter: this is crazy. made all the more complicated by the fact that amazon tries to stock everything they can get their hands on. is the goal of amazon to carry at least one of everything?
>> our goal is definitely have earth's biggest selection and to carry everything anybody wants any time.
>> that's a far cry from the old sears catalog , the wish book . maybe it just seemed like it had everything. we'd wonder just how good a kid would you have to be to get a jc higgins bike? so does amazon really have everything? when i was a kid i used to dream that santa would bring me a daisy red rider air rifle . and guess what -- they have them. i know, shoot your eye out.
>> you'll shoot your eye out, kid.
>> reporter: you know what? santa 's got nothing on you.
>> but we like to think we help santa as much as possible.
>> reporter: and they do. here's what you all told the big guy you wanted. "the lorax." noise isolating earphones. an actual book, " diary of a wimpy kid number seven." and how to find those things in this kavn of chaos? bar codes . amanda hunts and gathers and all the while the bar codes tell the machines where everything will end up. even what size box the orders will go in. but in order to finish the job, it takes real human beings to wrap the christmas gifts?
>> it does. the holiday is about gifts. this is something that they bought with care for another person. you know a machine-wrapped gift from a human-wrapped gift. it's not the same.
>> reporter: so this is how amazon loads its sleigh. it will take it to the right chute, which will take it to the right plane, which will bring the package to an airport near you. that is if you order on time. do you have reindeer?
>> not that we publicly announce. those are really for those last-minute customer shipments, those people who are really late and really need the help. that's when we pull the reindeer.
>> reporter: but don't push your luck. for "today," harry smith , phoenix, arizona.