FedEx has blamed Christmas gift delays on excessive online shopping, officials declaring that this year an unprecedented volume of goods had to be delivered.
Previously, on December 24, representatives of the shipping company had warned that unfavorable weather conditions could result in certain parcels not arriving in a timely fashion, ahead of Christmas.
Indeed, as explained by Satish Jindel, president of ShipMatrix, which tracks delivery performance across major shipping companies, FedEx had to deal with tornadoes, storms and flooding wreaking havoc in the South, Midwest and Southwest.
In addition, the courier business also had its operations perturbed by excessive rainfall, affecting the Northeast. For instance, in the states serviced by the Newark FedEx Express airhub, the company’s timeliness was severely affected, having been estimated by ShipMatrix at less than 80%.
More recently however, company representatives have stated that the reason for the delays wasn’t inclement weather, but a record-high number of online orders, received at the very last minute.
In the announcement made public on Monday, the spokesperson didn’t actually detail the reasons why FedEx was so overwhelmed by this spike in consumer demand.
It is true that few people have made purchases at the beginning of December, leading to a surge of orders near the middle of the month, which may have delighted retailers but caused shipping companies to work at full capacity.
Even so, a large number of e-commerce transactions as Christmas was getting near seems like an incongruous explanation for the difficulties experienced by FedEx, considering the fact that the popular courier firm has a large fleet of jets, as well as countless delivery trucks and several distribution centers and processing plants.
The human resources department even added thousands of seasonal employees on the payroll throughout the holidays.
In fact, since officials chose not to put their employees at risk by sending out aircraft and other vehicles when weather conditions were severe, they were forced to bring some of the staff to work right on Christmas day, in order to process the never-ending pile of parcels.
Also, the Express section, which provides more urgent deliveries (overnight or same-day) and other specialized services, was fully operational on Saturday, December 26, so as to help process all the delayed items, alongside the customary parcel flow.
On the other hand, several shipping methods didn’t function as planned, one such example being the Smart Post service.
This conveniently priced delivery mode involves having the sender’s package carried by FedEx across most of the trip, except for the last leg of the journey, when the parcel is picked up by the U.S. Postal Service, and later shipped to the intended recipient.
Despite the fact that many clients have expressed dissatisfaction with this type of system, given that Smart Post is less steeply priced and doesn’t offer the same guarantees as regular FedEx delivery options there’s not much left to do except grin and bear it, or switch to quicker, but costlier shipping.
Meanwhile, United Parcel Service (UPS) was much more successful in dealing with the record-breaking number of packages.
Company representative Glenn Zaccara has announced that couriers managed to successfully deliver everything, right before Christmas, leaving no room for delays or unhappy clients.
According to David Huckeba, logistics consultant at Intelligent Audit, since UPS had to deal with the same large volume of parcels and with the same hazardous weather, this suggests that the company’s level of preparedness and careful planning was superior to the one displayed by FedEx.
It’s likely that following its heavily publicized failure of shipping Christmas gifts on time back in 2013, UPS took measures so as not to repeat that blunder yet again, which explains why one of the rivals fared so well, while the other took a stumble.
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