Last Updated on 2024-03-13

Job Explained: Stower at Amazon Warehouse

We worked with these active, experienced gig-workers to write this article and bring you first-hand knowledge.

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Emir Dzaferovic

T1 Asssociate in a Fulfillment Center with 2 years of experience working in the Stower, Packer, and Waterspider roles.

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Justin “JJ” James

T1 Asssociate in a Delivery Station with 2+ years of experience working in the Stower, Picker, and Stager roles

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James Enright

L5 having worked in a Fulfillment Center, Sortation Center, and in Reverse Logistics with 6+ years of experience across Receive Dock, Decant, Waterspider, Stower, Picker, Count, Packer, SLAM Operator, Problem Solver, and Unloader roles

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Ozy Watson

T1 Asssociate with 1+ year of experience working in the Unloader, Scanner, Stager, Stower, Picker, Inducter, Pusher, Diverter, and Pick-to-Buffer roles

The “stower” is Amazon’s name for a warehouse associate who takes items or boxes and places them into pods or bags. 

Employees in this position work at Fulfillment Centers (FCs) and Delivery Stations (DSs) across the country. But, although their jobs have the same name, the stowing tasks and roles may vary slightly between a DS and an FC.

In this post, we’ll go into the job duties of a stower in both DSs and FCs, how to become one, and compare stowing with other Amazon warehouse roles.

Note that Sortation Center (SC) associates do not have a stower role. Stowing only occurs in Fulfillment Centers and Delivery Stations.

What is stowing at Amazon?

Stowing at a Fulfillment Center (FC)

In an FC, a stower receives pallets of items from the Receive Dock team (who receive shipments of items to the FC). They then scan these items and place them into pods. 

According to James Enright – an Amazon warehouse L5 worker boasting six years of experience – a pod is a plastic shelving unit with four sides. Two of the sides have shallow stowing pockets and the other two offer deeper ones called library bins. Emir Dzaferovic , his T1 colleague of one year, explains that they almost look like a four-side bookshelf. 

After an item is stowed, it is later picked from the pods, packed, and then shipped out. 

Stowing at an FC is a stationary role - you have a workstation at which pallets (containing the items you stow) and pods (in which you stow the items) are brought to you.

Stowing at a Delivery Station (DS)

At a DS, stowing is slightly different. “Items are already packaged and ready for delivery by the time they reach the Delivery Station,” explains Justin James , a T1 Amazon warehouse associate of two years. 

While FC stowers receive and store inventory, DS stowers are involved in the final stages of preparing products for delivery. Items are scanned into the system and placed onto a conveyor belt, from which they are then moved to buffer racks. 

Stowers pull items from these buffer racks and place them into bags (for smaller and lighter items) or oversized shelves (for larger and heavier items). 

Stow areas in DSs are divided into aisles rather than workstations - for every two aisles, there is a buffer rack. The role is more dynamic and fast-paced, requiring more movement than stowing at an FC. You will often move around to different aisles, depending on where the work is.

Amazon stower job description and duties

Stowing at a Fulfillment Center

In an FC, the basic job description of a stower is to receive pallets full of items from the Receive Dock team at their workstation, scan them into the inventory system, and then stow them into pods of varying sizes (depending on the size and weight of the item).

Upon delivery of new inventory, the stower is responsible for unloading the products from trucks and inspecting them for any damages or discrepancies. They then categorize the items based on their type and specifications.

Is stowing an inbound or outbound warehouse role?

Stowing is an inbound warehouse role because it entails receiving and storing incoming inventory into the warehouse. The entire process is performed in the early stages of the fulfillment process, before products are picked and packed for shipping.

In contrast, outbound roles like picking and packing are focused on preparing products for dispatch to customers. They involve packing items into shipping containers, labeling them, and loading them for transportation. 

In a nutshell, therefore, there is no such thing as an “outbound stow”.

Stowing Robots

Across the many FCs, robots play a significant role in the process of stowing. 

The most important task done by robots is pod transportation. Amazon’s robots bring empty pods to stowers for them to put items into while also moving full pods away from stowers’ workstations.

Emir explains, “When you get to your station, you sign in with your badge and then hit a button that will call several pods to your station. After you fill a pod/can't fit your items in the pod, you send that one away with the same button and another will be brought to you.”

Amazon is also experimenting with using robots to replace stower associates, however this is not at all widely implemented. At this point, using human stowers with the assistance of robotic pod transportation is by far the most common method of implementing the stowing process.

How to become a stower at Amazon

Whether you’re looking to stow at an FC or a DS, there is no separate job application for stowers. Instead, you first apply to become an FC associate or a DS associate . Upon qualifying, your local Amazon warehouse may place you into the role depending on its needs. 

As a DS associate, you’ll rotate between different roles each day during the sort stage, including stow. 

However, as an FC associate, you’re placed into a department (such as stow, pick, or pack) upon being hired. You’ll generally do this role every day unless you’re being labor-shared to another department, you become cross-trained in a different role, or you switch departments. 

Read more about the hiring process for L1 associates. Stowers also take the same shifts as any other roles within the FC or DS.

FC Stower vs. DS Stower: Which is better?

While there’s no objective consensus on which stow job is better, each of them has pros and cons.

Which job is better depends on each individual person’s preferences and needs. A basic comparison of each job in various categories is as follows:

FC Stower

  • Stows items from pallets into pods.
  • Not responsible for retrieving pallets or pods –this is done by robots or workers in other warehouse roles.
  • The role is stationary. You stay at your workstation without moving around.
  • Moderate physical intensity (heavy lifting and standing for a whole shift).
  • Repetitive work.
  • Minimal to no interactions with others.
  • Main challenges: ensuring errors don’t occur, fitting items into almost full pods, maintaining an above-average stowing rate
  • You are not allowed to sit down – regardless of how long your shift is.

DS Stower

  • Stows packages from buffer racks into bags or oversize shelves.
  • Not responsible for moving items to the buffer rack – other roles do this. Tasked with moving items from buffer rack to stow location and (rarely) replacing full bags.
  • According to Justin, many DS sites use the "stow by light" method to ensure stowing accuracy. When a package is scanned, the area around the appropriate bag lights up so the stower can easily find it. If the wrong bag is scanned, the light flashes red and stays lit.
  • Mobile role – moves within the aisles while stowing and between aisles to find work.
  • Heavy physical intensity (heavy lifting and walking for the whole sort stage).
  • Repetitive work.
  • Moderate interaction with others.
  • Main challenges – fitting items into almost full bags, organizing stowed items within bags, plus lots of squatting, kneeling, and bending. 
  • Stowers are encouraged to improve stow rates. But, associates cannot be written up for low stow rates.

As you can see, the “best” stowing role comes down to personal preferences.

Stowing vs. other roles


L1 FC and DS warehouse associates’ pay does not vary by department or role.

Complexity of Training & Work

Stow training and work are fairly simple compared to that of other departments or roles in both FCs and DSs.

Physical Exertion

In an FC

Compared to other roles in an FC, stowing involves a medium amount of physical activity and exertion. 

A comparable role in this area is picking. Some roles that involve more physical exertion are Waterspider and Ship Dock.

In a DS

Compared to other roles in a DS, stowing involves a medium amount of physical activity and exertion.

A comparable role in this area is Pick to Buffer. Some roles that involve more physical exertion are Waterspider and Unloader.

What is “stow rate”?

At Amazon warehouses, the stow rate refers to the number of items a stow associate scans and places into storage locations per hour.

How to calculate stow rate

A stower’s stow rate is measured in packages per hour. This is the same for FC stowers and DS stowers. 

Calculating it is very simple: divide the number of packages you have stowed by the number of hours you’ve worked. For example, a stower who stowed 800 packages over 4 hours would have a stow rate of 200.

What is a good stow rate?


At FCs, making rate as a stower (along with many other roles) is very important. If your rate goes too low, you can be written up. If you receive enough write-ups, you can be fired. 

The cutoff for what counts as “too low” varies by site, however, 250 seems to be a common benchmark rate.

Some of the fastest stowers average a rate of 500-600 (although usually only in favorable situations with lots of small items).


At a DS, the stow rate is less important. You cannot be written up for failing to meet the standard rate. “However, managers and supervisors will speak to associates about their low stow rate,” clarifies Justin.  

As a benchmark, the average DS stow rate is around 240 packages an hour (roughly 4 per minute). In other warehouses, like Justin’s, the required stow rate stretches up to 300 per hour.

That said, some of the fastest stowers average between 450 and 550 – although mostly in favorable situations with lots of small packages.

How do I improve my stow rate?

As you become more experienced as an Amazon Associate, your stow rate will naturally start going up. A good way to increase it further is to organize your pods or bags well, making you able to put items in more quickly. 

As a DS stower, another way to increase your stow rate is to organize the packages you grab off the buffer rack on your stow cart so that you can do all packages of the same stow locations at once.

According to James Enright , “a steady pace pays off more than trying to catch up.” He advises stowers to keep their work close so it's faster to reach, sort similar-sized items together on the sled/rack/pallet, and understand the scale of each item before scanning into the bin.

Justin adds that stow carts are regularly recommended at their DS for increasing stow rates and safety. His managers also suggest using jiffies when working with small packages. 

Career Advancement

As a stower at an Amazon Warehouse, your main prospect for career advancement is to become an Process Assistant (PA) – which is an L3 supervisory role. 

After working at Amazon for long enough, gaining experience, and displaying leadership skills, you may be given the opportunity to apply to be (and possibly become) a PA. 

At an FC, you would apply to become the PA of a specific department - most likely stow if you’re starting as a stower. At a DS, PAs collectively supervise the station, so you’d apply to become a PA for the whole site.

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