Is your Amazon delivery late? Blame a case of ‘the Mondays,’ study says

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — In a bit of news almost certain to annoy noted workaholic Jeff Bezos, researchers at Lehigh University have found that even Amazon warehouse employees are susceptible to a case of “the Mondays.” Referred to as the “Monday effect” by the study’s authors, the tendency for workers to be a bit slower to get things done after the weekend is probably why you haven’t received that one package you ordered three days ago.

The Monday effect has already been proven to influence finance, productivity, and psychology. Now, it appears to have an effect on supply chains as well. To be fair, though, it isn’t all about human lethargy. Besides just human factors, the Monday effect is also contributed to by overall “process interruptions” that occur in shipping facilities when operations are shut down each weekend.

All in all, researchers believe the Monday effect leads to a longer waiting period between an order being placed and subsequently shipped, as well as possible errors.

Data on over 800,000 transactions over the course of a year was analyzed for the study. The authors were specifically looking for discrepancies in warehouse performances depending on the days of the week. Order and fulfillment information for one of China’s largest supermarket chains was also included.

To put it concisely, their research revealed that not only is the Monday effect very much real, it’s quite widespread and significant. For instance, it takes an average of 9.68% longer to receive an order placed on Monday than other weekdays. Over the weekend, all those Saturday and Sunday orders pile up in the warehouse queues, leading to a logjam come Monday morning. Meanwhile, it doesn’t help that the human employees reporting for work tend to be just a little bit more forgetful and prone to errors on Mondays.

Surprisingly, the study’s authors say that most supply chain or warehouse managers don’t seem to be aware of this problem. Thankfully for all of us online shoppers, there are a number of solutions.

Researchers suggest a number of possible ways to fix the Monday effect: bring in more workers on Mondays, hold less meeting on Mondays, incorporate better training programs, pay more on Mondays, add incentives (free coffee), or double-check orders fulfilled on Mondays.

Of course, as you can probably guess, there’s another solution out there that is almost certain to fix the problem: robotic automation. According to their calculations, this measure would mitigate the effect of Mondays by roughly 90%. More specifically, automation would improve the Monday order-to-shipping time gap by 94%, improve orders completed by 71%, and reduce the number of packages shipped with an error by 80%.

Automation is predicted to be especially helpful regarding specialized or high-value orders, since most human workers might be less knowledgable about these goods and their shipping needs.

“Technology is more helpful in substituting for labor when humans are more prone to making mistakes,” the study reads. “Computer-to-computer links avoid potential human effects resulting from the weekend break.”

The study is published in Information Systems Research.