With the holiday shopping season officially in full swing, data issued this week by ShipMatrix, a subsidiary of Pittsburgh-based SJ Consulting, showed that major parcel carriers, including UPS, FedEx, the United States Postal Service (USPS), and global e-commerce titan Amazon, have started strong for delivery of online items for the week ending December 1, which included both Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
The firm reported that these companies are expected to handle a record number of parcel volumes for the 2019 Peak Season, which, it noted, is comprised of six fewer days than the 2018 Peak Season.
Looking at the individual carrier performances for the week ending December 1, ShipMatrix reported on-time delivery for UPS, at 98.5%, while it handled rapid growth in volume originating from Amazon, specifically for Next Day Air. FedEx turned in a 98.6% on-time delivery rate for all services, in tandem with providing seven-day residential Ground delivery through Peak Season, which ShipMatrix said will remain as a regular service offering into 2020.
As for USPS, ShipMatrix reported that its on-time delivery, for mostly last-mile services, came in at 98.4%, with the firm noting that UPS, FedEx, and USPS are “on par” with service for the week ending December 1 on an annual basis.
Looking at Amazon, ShipMatrix said that through the Amazon Delivery Service Partners (DSP) and Flex drivers, it estimates that these drivers are expected to deliver more than half of Amazon’s U.S. parcel volume, which equates to 275 million packages between Black Friday and New Year’s Eve. And it added that over Thanksgiving week, the on-time delivery rate for Amazon drivers came in at 98.2%. For Black Friday alone, the on time delivery rate for UPS, FedEx, USPS, and Amazon was 99%, according to ShipMatrix.
In an interview, Satish Jindel, president of SJ Consulting, said that this batch of carrier data is driven by the experience these carriers have gained over the last six or seven years, in handling e-commerce-driven shipments. And he added that over this time, the back-end technology deployed by these carriers, replete with databases comprised of data and information on where packages are going and what consumers have bought and will buy and where they are located, presents a situation in which, as an example, there may now be 20% new buyers, compared to 50% just a few years ago.”
“In the past, as was the case in 2013 and a couple of years later, there were some challenges, and companies relied quite a bit on their part-time package handlers to handle sorting in the hubs,” he said. “Sorting requires knowledge of what package goes to which city, and now they are automating their hubs. When they are automated, more volume can be thrown in and the same mistakes [from the past] will not be made.”
Using UPS as an example, Jindel said that its combination of increased automation, coupled with Saturday and Sunday delivery as regular delivery days have provided the company with an extra day to deliver, with consumers placing online orders seven days a week.
And with Amazon delivering 275 million packages on its own, which Jindel said accounts for 60% of its volume between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, if other carriers, including UPS, USPS, and some regional carriers, had to deliver those 275 million packages, they would be challenged to do so.
When asked if Peak Season performance for these major carriers is off to as best of a start as possible, Jindel did not hesitate to say it was the case.
“These are terrific numbers,” he said. “It shows how consumers should continue to keep shopping online and not worry about whether their packages will arrive or not,” he said. And ShipMatrix added that the carriers are poised to meet the increase in parcel volume following the strong start to this peak season.
As for potential challenges that could put shipping plans off kilter, Jindel pointed to weather as having the biggest potential negative impact.
Offering advice to customers, Jindel made it clear to collect packages delivered to homes on the actual day they were delivered and not leave them outside, or in an area, where they could be stolen.
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