How Courier Services Plan to Help the Industry Avoid Holiday Delivery Delays

Delayed packages are an annoyance at the best of times, but during the holidays they can mean the difference between opening a gift on Christmas morning or getting nothing at all. Many footwear retailers and wholesalers hire additional seasonal staff to combat this; however, a new report by LateShipment.com shows that this approach was insufficient at tackling demand in 2017. With over 1.25 billion packages predicted to be handled by UPS and FedEx this holiday season, it has never been more important to streamline delivery.

The areas that are most likely to experience delays include both heavily populated cities, like New York and Los Angeles, and sparsely populated states in the Midwest, according to the report. Apparel, a popular gifting choice, has the highest observed delay rate: Over 20 percent of apparel packages shipped with FedEx were delayed during the 2017 holidays. Causes of delay range from congestion at customs to bad weather. Although UPS and FexEd each hired thousands of temporary employees last year, this created a gap in operational skill and training — that too can cause delays.

Luckily, for the millions of retailers and customers who still need packages delivered, 2018 is shaping up to be different. Although the weather can’t be controlled, UPS is aiming to improve its ground transportation by rolling out a new navigation tool called UPSNav, which is integrated into the handheld devices used by all its package delivery drivers. Unlike a traditional satellite navigation system, it is designed to help locate loading docks, delivery bays and other drop-off locations that are often not included on regular mapping.

DHL Express has also invested in the efficiency of its supply chain management, announcing plans to spend $300 million on accelerated integration of technology across 350 of its 430 North American facilities. This money will go toward elements such as robotics, augmented reality and DHL’s proprietary end-to-end visibility solution, MySupplyChain.

Still, some delays are inevitable, no matter how prepared the delivery companies are. In this case, UPS has provided guidelines to help customers reduce their risk, which includes the suggestion to pick up items in-store to avoid missed deliveries. Meanwhile, FedEx has focused on the joy of gift-giving with its New York mobile gifting truck; customers can pick a product from a curated selection and have it shipped anywhere in the continental U.S. while stocks last.

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