Ah, the holidays. It seems like every year when winter rolls around, we hear from shipping carriers that they continue to see record-breaking volume. After all, demand for eCommerce only keeps growing. However, this year will be much different than any others to date. Thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic and the widespread phenomenon of sheltering in place, eCommerce volume has surged over the past several months. As a result, the 2020 holiday season will see even more eCommerce orders than any shipping carrier could have ever prepared for at the start of the year. In fact, all the major carriers expect to see record-shattering shipping volume during this year’s holiday season…and they’re beginning to brace for it now.
Shipping Carriers Anticipate the 2020 Holiday Season Will See Volume They Predicted in 2030
COVID-19 seemed to take eCommerce growth and kick it into high gear. While eCommerce volume was growing steadily year-over-year, shipping experts say the unprecedented shift to digital buying during the pandemic has pushed their expected parcel growth forward 10 years in the past six months. That means that, originally, carriers predicted they would see these volume levels no earlier than 2030…and peak volume projections for the year 2030 what carriers are forecasting for this year’s holiday season. The only problem is, all the carriers’ networks are still playing catch-up for the demand in 2020.
Shippers Will Likely See Delays in Delivery Times Across the Board
It’s inevitable that this record-breaking surge in package demand will place a lot of pressure on shipping carriers’ express networks. As a result, shippers are likely to see delays in delivery times this holiday season, no matter which shipping carrier you choose.
In a recent interview, Satish Jindel, president of parcel analytics company ShipMatrix, weighed in on what to expect:
“It doesn’t mean…packages won’t get moved, but they will be affected in terms of the number of days for transit. So, the on-time performance will be challenging for the carriers because they are operating way beyond their capacity. Even though the parcel delivery companies will add temporary drivers and warehouse personnel, the demand will increase in the meantime.”
FedEx Chief Marketing Officer Brie Carere shared a similar sentiment with the Wall Street Journal:
“There will be days within the holiday season where the industry will be over capacity.”
Here’s the big takeaway: packages will still make it to recipients this holiday season without any issues…just with a lower on-time delivery percentage than normal.
If You’re an eCommerce Seller, Set Realistic Expectations With Customers
Since all carriers expect significant strain on their networks, online sellers need to prepare by setting realistic expectations with buyers. With demand for packages hitting all-time highs during Black Friday and beyond, some level of bottlenecking is bound to occur. There will be simply too much package supply, and not enough resources to deliver them all on time.
To combat this paradigm shift, it would behoove any online seller to inform buyers of anticipated delays. One example of a way to do this would be to include a disclaimer on your website. Alternatively, you could also send an email to your recipients when they order an item, and inform them their package may arrive a tad later than expected, due to conditions out of your control. This may not sound like a useful tactic, but in our experience, it is. A little simple communication can go a long way.
Make Sure to Ship Your Items Out Before the USPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines
Lastly, one of the best things you can do as an online seller is to ship your items before the 2020 USPS holiday shipping deadlines. The dates in that article represent the cut-off days for all USPS services that you need to ship by in order for your package to arrive on or before December 24th. Nothing is worse than a customer ordering a package as a gift for someone else, and getting it after Christmas. Don’t be one of those sellers. If you’re shipping with USPS, make sure you send out your holiday orders as early as you can!