Major carriers prepare for surge in holiday package delivery

October 30, 2014 at 4:38 PMAdministrator
ERP software helps carriers and shippers better prepare for an increase in delivery requests.

Top carriers around the country are preparing for a large surge in holiday shipping. The United States Postal Service, United Parcel Service Inc., FedEx Corp. and Amazon are all gearing up for what should be a record year in terms of package deliveries.

Delivery numbers peak for carriers at different times, though the highest volume days always fall between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year's anticipated increase in packages requiring delivery within that time frame is likely the result of ecommerce and online shopping.

This year, the U.S. Postal Service will deliver 4 billion packages. This is an 8 percent increase from last year. The USPS estimates that roughly 475 million of those parcels will be delivered during the holiday season. That number reflects anywhere between a 12 and 14 percent increase compared to last year's seasonal numbers. In addition, both UPS and FedEx hire USPS to deliver items during this busy time. Up to 470 million packages could be dropped at residences by the USPS on behalf of those other carriers. In order to accommodate this surge, the Postal Service will begin delivering items on all seven days of the week beginning Nov. 28, which is Black Friday.

After intense backlash from consumers in 2013 when UPS failed to deliver thousands of parcels by Christmas Eve, the carrier has significantly increased resources for the 2014 holiday season. Along with investing $175 million to improve and expand sorting services and capacity respectively, UPS hired 95,000 workers in preparation for the holidays. The carrier also decided workers will be delivering and sorting on November 28, as they expect 585 million packages to come through their facilities during the month of December. This is an 11 percent increase from 2013, despite the delayed delivery debacle. Dec. 22 is anticipated to be UPS' busiest day of 2014.

Like UPS, FedEx hired seasonal workers. The 50,000 newly hired employees will be easing the workload presented by the expected 290 million packages requiring delivery between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is an 8.8 percent increase from the previous holiday season. The carrier predicted 22.6 million of those items will be delivered on Dec. 15, their seasonal peak. FedEx also invested $1.2 billion this year in their ground shipping operations in an effort to increase capacity and streamline automation. The results are promising. The carrier has decreased the amount of time ground delivery takes by one day on over two thirds of the U.S.

Following the course set by the three largest carriers in the U.S., Amazon hired 80,000 seasonal workers to help make their shipping facilities more efficient this year. This is 14 percent more holiday hires than 2013.

Distribution centers should take note of the incredible preparedness these carriers have demonstrated. Utilizing the services offered by enterprise resource planning software can provide businesses with similar support during busier times of the year. Whether that is the upcoming holiday season or next spring, implementing ERP software leads to efficient shipping and operations.