December 2020 Delivery Delays and What We Can Do About Them

Current State of 2020 Holiday Deliveries 

The holiday surge is here. As predicted, holiday shopping has tilted toward online sales at a much higher rate than usual this year due to restricted in-store shopping. The result is a big strain on shipping carriers to keep up with demand. 

Among the rumors and headlines, we’ve put together a few of the facts that are affecting brands across industries. Some issues are out of sellers’ control at this point, but there are a few actions we believe shippers can take to lessen the blow of delayed shipments this month.

USPS Delayed Deliveries

Carriers in some regions are experiencing major delays this week, and this is likely only the beginning. For example, a USPS distribution center in Louisville, Kentucky is reporting major backups. They are behind by two to four days. This means many packages are just sitting in trailers in their yard waiting for an open dock door so they can begin the sortation process of the freight prior to heading off to the final destination. 

Experiencing unprecedented package increases and limited employee availability due to the impacts of COVID-19. We appreciate your patience and remain committed to delivering the holidays to you. Alert - December 12, 2020

Volume Limitations

Small package carriers, namely UPS, FedEx, and DHL announced package limitations for key shippers. This will allow these carriers to effectively meter package volume throughout their network and meet favorable on-time delivery performance. The USPS has to accept ALL packages as they cannot refuse service to anyone per their bylaws, so as some shippers reached their capacity limits with UPS, FedEX, DHL, they started processing excess volume with the USPS which is creating volume constraints in some major market areas.

Service Alerts

We maintain a close watch on the market, specifically capacity and demand to help prevent impacts to our clients and we invite you to keep abreast of the latest intel. Please bookmark the service alerts pages of UPS and FedEx to be alerted of pandemic, holiday, and weather related events impacting pickups and delivery.  

How Sellers Can Address Delays

Talk to your end-customers and tell them to order early. 

In all honesty, “ordering early” is quickly passing us by, so the best advice is to communicate with your end-customers. Post clear advisories on all messaging this month that packages may not get to their final destination by Christmas. For example, “Deliveries may be delayed due to pandemic related shipping pressures and inclement weather.” Setting expectations is the best customer service you can provide right now.

Provide Accurate Volume Levels

If you’re working with a 3PL and need to send forecasts of your order volumes, be sure to get as accurate as possible. The same goes for carriers. You may get hit with extra fees or volume restrictions if your forecast isn’t in line with your actual order volume, since the carriers have been using forecasts previously supplied. However, given the volume of packages being processed, and carriers exceeding their existing capacity, the most accurate forecasting still may not arrive on time.

Shipping Cut-Off Dates are a Suggestion 

It’s the second week of December and we are fast approaching the holiday shipping cut off dates. What most sellers have failed to take note of is that none of the carriers have any guarantees on these dates this year. These cut off dates are all estimates, not guarantees

Rerouting Shipments to Avoid Bottlenecks

At DCL we are trying to help the situation for our clients by hiring private delivery services to reroute packages away from the places with obvious delivery bottlenecks. While we also can’t guarantee this will get packages to a final destination in time, it means we are upholding all of our SLAs and moving boxes down the line. We at DCL would also recommend routing your USPS shipments to UPS if it is economically feasible for you. We have no restrictions with UPS at this time.

Things may continue to get worse, and delays may stretch out longer and longer this month. Don’t sleep on letting your end-customers know so that they can plan and understand what to expect. 


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