Santa’s Sleigh is not quite fast enough

This is an example how the holiday season disappointed customers

Last year was a terrible Christmas for many families in the United States. The majority of those families were those that put off their online holiday shopping until the last minute. UPS and FedEx were the two companies that were in the spotlight last year with an estimated 2 million late packages that did not get delivered on time for Christmas. This was due to both bad weather and the lack of planning and preparation these companies had to perform.

The holiday shopping season in 2013 was a record breaking one with more customers than ever shopping online with Amazon, Target, and Wal-Mart to name a few. However, the shipping companies were not the only ones to blame for the disastrous holiday shipping dilemma. Many of the large online retailers were offering customers expedited shipping and/or guaranteed delivery without actually paying the additional fees to the shipping company for that service. For example, if you ordered a product online and the company promised to deliver in two days that doesn’t necessarily mean that the company paid UPS or FedEx to get the package there by those specific days. Retailers were not expecting to pack and ship the amount of orders they did nor were they expecting bad weather around the country or UPS and FedEx to not have the ability to support the large number of packages going through the system. All of these were issues that lead into packages not being delivered on time.

For the upcoming holiday shopping season in 2015 retailers and logistics companies are altering their plans for the massive amount of expected purchases. Shipped goods are expected to rise as much as 11 percent when compared to last year. So you may ask, what are they doing different from last year to support this growing industry of online shopping? More and more of the big box retailers with online and brick-and-mortar stores and also some of the smaller ones are offering more and more options to place your order online and then pick it up in store a short time later. They are also preparing to ship some orders from store locations instead of from a central warehouse, which could significantly decrease transit time.

UPS and FedEx are hiring about 10 percent more seasonal workers than last year to help process, sort and deliver packages. They are also investing enormous amount of money to more efficiently run their operations such as automated sorting.

With these adjustments in place the online stores and shipping companies are supposed to be a lot more effective at delivering packages on time than they were last year.

If you had a position of authority in one of the big box online retailers such as Amazon, Target or Wal-Mart, how would you improve operations?



Companies are wanting to automate sorting such as this


10 thoughts on “Santa’s Sleigh is not quite fast enough

  1. If I were one of these companies I think the action that they took for this year, would be the one I would suggest. By delivering from their stores instead of a main warehouse I think that they will accomplish what they set out to accomplish last year. Also I think the stores can set up some sort of back order plan with their local customers, like when they receive whatever the customer ordered they can call and let them know and give them the option to pick up the item or allow delivery to continue. Overall I think this is a huge issue and a great story.

  2. I understand the logistics behind the companies need to send everything through a base warehouse where they can be processed and tracked for customer convenience. That being said, the holidays bring about a matter bigger than one base warehouse. After disappointing thousands of customers last Christmas, a new strategy needed to taken. I think that delivering from the store is a great way to combat the increased need for shipments during the holiday season. This not only allows for customers to pick up their product which eliminates the delivery issue altogether. For the in-store deliveries, it allows for the heat to be on a store which can handle the extra deliveries instead of letting every shipment in the entire company to have to go through one single warehouse before shipping out.

  3. I think that the actions that the companies are taking this year are very progressive and proactive, if I were to suggest something it would be the same. One of the major problems was the lack of communication between the stores and the delivery providers. Like you stated just because a store guarantees next day delivery doesn’t mean that delivery service does. Things would run much more smoothly if provisions were made to accommodate both the store and the delivery service so that the could work together to provide quick delivery. Which sounds like exactly what they’re doing.

  4. The actions that the companies plan on taking this year seem like it will improve their chance of getting all items shipped and delivered before Christmas. I like the idea of shipping right from the store because they will definitely cut down the delivery time. I agree with Janelle in the previous comment stating a major problem was a lack of communication. The retailers and the delivery services need to be on the same page in order to successfully deliver all the packages this Christmas. I would suggest these companies give themselves enough time and make the cut off date to guarantee delivery at a reasonable date.

  5. Great post! I agree that the actions the companies are taking this year to avoid a repeat of the problems from 2013 are the appropriate actions. One of the major problems from 2013 seemed to be a lack of communication on the part of the companies offering guaranteed delivery and the distributors. So in addition to hiring extra seasonal workers and shipping from in-store, I would ensure that everyone is on the same page and that deliveries would actually be possible BEFORE telling the customer that it would be.

  6. Good relatable post! A new method that some stories recently have been doing is you order and pay for your items online and then pick them up in the store. I love this new method as I can be ensured the item is in stock, I do not have to wait through a line, then checkout, and finally (most importantly) do not have to shop through a crowded store. I also like that I do not have to worry about shipping nor the shipping costs. In addition, if I go to the store and the item was not what I thought it would be, I can return it then and there. Obviously this method only works with brick and mortar stores which have online websites, but I think this method needs to be expanded to others as well.

  7. In today’s society, online shopping has become increasingly popular due to the convenience and speed associated with it. This was a very interesting post because it analyzes an issue that many retailers are facing, especially as the holidays approach. I agree that their current actions are great preventative measures, like shipping from a local store to decrease shipping time, or offering pickup options for customers so they have to worry less about their shipping operations. However, I think there are other options as well. For instance, the companies could offer more online discounts or shipping incentives so customers are more motivated to make their purchases earlier in the year. While these alternatives would not eliminate their issues, it could ease their load during the peak last minute shopping times.

  8. Companies definitely didn’t make a good forecast for last year. However, it is good that this year they implemented new ways for this up coming Christmas. As you said, hiring more seasonal employees will help out! It happens so many times that online retailers promises to ship within two days. I ordered a product 15 days ago. I just checked and still says that will arrive after 2 business days. I received an email saying “we had a mishap in our warehouse that has delayed the shipping of your order” Well, it’s been half a month now. I can’t imagine the frustration of customers in Christmas time!

  9. Regarding your question, if I had the position of authority over any of the online retailers I would definitely continue on with their existing plans of hiring seasonal employees. We know that because of how advanced our technology is getting customers do not like going to retail stores as much anymore. Customers would rather go on their I-Phone and order gifts from the store web applications, because it simply is just more easier and overall it saves time. I think these companies know that their shipped goods are increasing and its a major stream of how they generate revenue so it is important to keep up with these advances and create plans to manage these operations in a effective way. I look forward to Christmas Season to see how it works out this year!

  10. In todays modern world a lot of our shopping is done online, with that being said we don’t want to repeat last year’s incident. I think the new strategies that these companies implemented will definitely improve productivity. If I had the position of authority I would hire more than 10% of seasonal employees. Hopefully this holiday season will run smoother than last years.

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