It’s Christmas in July for the retail industry. Holiday decorations might not hit stores for a few more months, but retailers are now working on their 2015 holiday plans. 

And you can bet that shipping strategies are a big part of those plans. Online sales made up about 10 percent of the $616 billion in holiday sales last year, so shipping plans are a top priority for retailers. In addition, more and more retailers are eyeing the international market, which means cross-border shipping is part of the mix as well.

As for its plans, the shipping industry is likely to heed the ghost of Christmas past to avoid repeating mistakes. UPS reportedly just started informing certain retailers that it will not give discounts on oversized items, such as furniture and grills, this holiday season. These items don’t move on the company’s automated conveyor belts and require more costly manual handling.

UPS is especially anxious for a spotless 2015 holiday season after 2 years in a row of missteps. In 2013, a surge of last-minute online orders and bad weather led to delivery failures. This past year, UPS spent too much money on extra hires and added automation to avoid the same mistake. While service was strong, the company reported disappointing financial results. 

For the U.S. Postal Service, our recent audit report provides some insights into what worked well in the 2014 peak holiday season and what could be improved this year. By most accounts, the Postal Service had a successful 2014 holiday shipping season. It processed a record 865.4 million packages during the December 2014 peak period with strong service performance. While the number of packages increased by more than 88 million, delayed packages decreased by 1.8 million compared to the previous year. In addition, service improved in six of the nine package categories the Postal Service measures. 

Still, it could do better to ensure packages are processed on time so as not to put revenue at risk. Package processing machines should be timely installed and fully utilized during the peak season. In addition, enough temporary workers should be hired to meet peak demand.  

How soon do you plan to start your holiday shopping this year? Do you expect to do more online shopping this year? If you used online shopping last year, how was your experience?  

Comments (4)

  • anon

    I do a LOT of overseas shopping. However, I am just lately starting to have problems with false delivery scans, and even a false registered delivery receipt. The USPS system just recycles the complaint back to the carrier-- it's not escalated. So, registered mail is safe UNTIL it gets to the local Post Office. Then, it's delivered, or not, depending on whether the carrier is honest, or not.

    Oct 11, 2015
  • anon

    I do a LOT of overseas shopping. However, I am just lately starting to have problems with false delivery scans, and even a false registered delivery receipt. The USPS system just recycles the complaint back to the carrier-- it's not escalated. So, registered mail is safe UNTIL it gets to the local Post Office. Then, it's delivered, or not, depending on whether the carrier is honest, or not.

    Oct 11, 2015
  • anon

    Holiday Shopping has been denied me by the United States Postal Service since they are determined not to forward my mail to me. I am a frugal holiday shopper on a disability income who went to Texas to help a family member in the hospital. After two weeks, i went online and entered a stop to my forwarded mail. i then went to the local post office and filled out a forward mail to my home address here in North Carolina, which the Postal Service directed me to do. That was the last week in June. It is now July 20th, and I have not received one piece of mail. I have called the local Postal Service twice, physically visited it twice, and called the main postal service with verbal assurance that I would see mail the next day. That was two weeks ago. I am on a mission to find the highest resource to correct this problem. I want to know who has my mail and I want to know why I have been so inconvenienced by the United States Postal Service.!

    Jul 20, 2015
  • anon

    I was driving by the Jericho New York U.S Post Office. I notice the flag outside was tangled, i went inside to address the issue with the staff. Within five minutes they corrected the issue with the flag. This was very pleasing for myself, being I'm a military veteran who holds the care of the flag in the highest esteem. I didn't catch the staffs name, but they should be put in for a commendation and this place in there performance file. Just wanted to personally say thanks to the morning Jericho postal staff and job well done.

    Jul 14, 2015

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