With the holiday shopping season in full swing, there's a good chance you've scrolled through the virtual aisles for the world's largest online retailer, Amazon.com.

The Seattle-based company's "busy season," to put it mildly, is in full swing. It has hired 50,000 seasonal workers to staff its 80 massive warehouses that dot the globe and deliver gifts everywhere in time for Christmas, according to according to ABC News' Neal Karlinsky, who visited one of those "fulfillment centers" in Arizona.

In that way, Amazon is like a second Santa Claus (except you have to pay for the goods in cash money, instead of in milk and cookies).

One of the company's most intriguing innovations, its so-called "chaotic storage" system, is hidden away from consumers. And it's not every day that Amazon, known for its secrecy, opens the doors to its mega-warehouses, where items are stored and retrieved in what appears to be a chaotic hurricane of books, lawnmowers, rainboots, DVDs and much, much more.

Instead of placing similar items next to or nearby each other, the warehouse workers store goods wherever there is room. If you order a backpack from Amazon, it may be sent to you after being plucked from a shelf in Arizona, where it had been nestled between a football and a tablecloth. The system works because everything is tagged with barcodes and scanned by employees who are trained to navigate these depositories.

Visit ABC for the full report on these buzzing storage hives behind the scenes of Amazon.com, or watch the video (below). Check out the images in our gallery to see stills from the massive warehouses.

[h/t The Atlantic Wire]


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  • Workers pull merchandise as it arrives at the Amazon.com 1.2 million square foot fulfillment center Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, in Phoenix. Americans clicked away on their computers and smartphones for deals on Cyber Monday, which is expected to be the biggest online shopping day in history. Shoppers are expected to spend $1.5 billion, up 20 percent from last year, according to research firm comScore. That would not only make it the biggest online shopping day of the year, but the biggest since comScore started tracking shoppers' online buying habits in 2001.

  • An employee walks a wide isle at Amazon.com's 1.2 million square foot fulfillment center Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, in Phoenix.

  • A worker organizes containers on "Cyber Monday" at the Amazon.com 1.2 million square foot fulfillment center Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, in Phoenix.

  • Yolanda Holden places a completed order onto a conveyor belt prior to packaging at the Amazon.com 1.2 million square foot fulfillment center Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, in Phoenix.

  • On "Cyber Monday" Nicholas Lerma gets packages ready for shipping at the Amazon.com 1.2 million square foot fulfillment center Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, in Phoenix.

  • Packages ready to ship move along a conveyor belt at the Amazon.com 1.2 million square foot fulfillment center Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, in Phoenix.

  • Staff at the Amazon Swansea fulfilment centre process orders as they prepare their busiest time of the year on November 24, 2011 in Swansea, Wales.

  • Staff at the Amazon Swansea fulfilment centre process orders as they prepare their busiest time of the year on November 24, 2011 in Swansea, Wales.

  • Staff at the Amazon Swansea fulfilment centre process orders as they prepare their busiest time of the year on November 24, 2011 in Swansea, Wales.

  • Staff at the Amazon Swansea fulfilment centre process orders as they prepare their busiest time of the year on November 24, 2011 in Swansea, Wales.

  • Staff at the Amazon Swansea fulfilment centre process orders as they prepare their busiest time of the year on November 24, 2011 in Swansea, Wales.

  • Staff at the Amazon Swansea fulfilment centre process orders as they prepare their busiest time of the year on November 24, 2011 in Swansea, Wales.