As an online shopper, the world is your oyster. You can pretty much order anything from nearly anywhere in the world for delivery to your home, or in some cases, to wherever you direct the package. And increasingly, consumers are getting these deliveries at a reasonable cost and with plenty of visibility along the way.

However, for delivery companies, the oyster doesn’t always contain a pearl. UPS recently reported earnings below expectations, in part because of the “shift in product mix” with more and more packages going to consumers rather than to business. It costs more to deliver to individual consumers' doorsteps than it does to businesses, which tend to get multiple shipments at the same time to one location.

As CNBC reported, ecommerce has been growing at double-digit rates for years and the 2016 holiday season was no exception: online sales surged 13 percent, according to the National Retail Federation, well above its forecast of 7 to 10 percent growth. Business-to-consumer, or B2C, volumes comprised 55 percent of total volumes — and 63 percent during December alone. Packages were delivered to nearly 2.5 million new addresses, CNBC said.

This growth in B2C, of course, provides huge opportunities for delivery companies, including the U.S. Postal Service, which specializes in delivery to every door. Indeed, UPS and FedEx use the Postal Service for last-mile delivery on some of their ground services. But this B2C growth comes with challenges too. Analysts say delivery companies “must spend more to keep up with demand and ensure shipments are delivered on time.”

UPS says it plans $4 billion in 2017 capital expenditures, up from the $3 billion spent in 2016, with a large portion of the expense going to boosting network capacity to handle ecommerce flows. FedEx is planning similar capacity improvements in its FedEx Ground unit, which handles its ecommerce traffic.

For the Postal Service, growth in packages is most welcome, especially as it continues to lose lettermail volumes. It saw its package revenue increase by more than $700 million, or almost 15 percent, in the 2016 holiday season compared to the previous year. However, with a much larger network and many needs for its capital investment dollars, the Postal Service could find the challenges even more daunting than its competitors.

Have you noticed any changes in delivery of your online purchases? When shopping online, do you try to group several orders together for one shipment? Or do you tend to buy more spontaneously and have individual orders shipped separately?

Comments (10)

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  • anon

    It is USPS policy if an address has a PO Box in lieu of a physical address, then that said physical address can not be verified as an existing address. The problem is when giving or changing your address with companies they often say that the address can't be found in their system and hence are reluctant to either provide services and packages never show up with no reason given. In one case it was with an insurance provider, (in this case no packages to be sent just company mailings). USPS says that is just the way it is if you have a PO Box, your physical address will never be able to be verified. I understand an address must be registered as an official address that in order to receive mail at the home by USPS, but the problem is the verification system is used by many other entities as the sole source for collecting data for their own use. With the computer age, how can other entities to verify an existing physical address if the USPS has a reputation for being the GoTo source and if the address is not in their system then it must be fact. The USPS either needs to create a special class for addresses using a PO Box, so other mail/package deliveries are able to be processed and so the needs of companies concerned with the security and/or hence sending sensitive materials to a bogus address. Otherwise, the system as it is will remain extremely flawed.

    Nov 03, 2017
  • anon

    USPS is terrible. Since amazon decided to use them I now no longer receive anything that does not fit in my mailbox that is sent via the USPS. They clearly take no pride in their work. But what do they care? We had formula ordered, which is temperature controlled, not delivered. Then, I can’t pick it up same day at the post office, which is 15 minutes away, because they don’t want to help me out in the least. Then the formula sits in an environment that is not controlled during the summer. When I do go to the post office to pick up parcels I watch them kick my packages across the floor. Absolutely terrible. It is upsetting that there is no quality in their service and it seems like there will be no improvement. There is clearly no oversight and if there is it is not working as the quality of service has steadily went down hill. I am also not happy with amazon for using a terrible service provider. We recieved every parcel without fail until USPS was an option. I definitely support privatizing mail service because there is no point in having such a poorly run service. UPS and Fedex do such a better job because they have to in order to compete with one another. The USPS is rewarded for doing a terrible job because people don’t use them if they do a terrible job yet they get to keep their job and actually have it easier as a result of their terrible job because they end up with less work because no one wants to use them. Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.

    Oct 19, 2017
  • anon

    You don't deliver to my address. You fail in your most basic service. No wonder no one wants to use you. The laziness displayed to this combat veteran is disgusting. 22 vets kill themselves everyday, and you cannot deliver the mail. Any ideas on fixing the problem? Doing nothing isn't helping.

    Oct 16, 2017
  • anon

    If a package is too large for my mail box, is USPS obligated to place a package at my door or leave a note/card?

    Oct 16, 2017
  • anon

    The USPS mail carriers may be the laziest employees on the planet. If I am lucky they drop my packages in front of the garage, but I have found them just sitting in random spots in the driveway. It would take perhaps 10 extra seconds to leave them at my actual front door, out of the weather, and less likely to be grabbed by a random passer by, but god forbid these lazy people put forth any effort at all. So yeah, USPS stinks at package delivery.

    Jul 16, 2017
  • anon

    Please raise the cost of a first class letter. A dollar or two would be fine. NOW, get out of the shipping business. You have absolutely the worst service of any shipping company. You have no desire to improve this part of your business except trying to attract companies to use your service because it is so "CHEAP". You get what you pay for I guess.

    Apr 08, 2017
  • anon

    I have noticed a horrible change in the delivery quality of my local post office I have been trying to work with them to resolve for over 6 months and I am about to cancel my Amazon Prime subscription soon because I can not get my packages delivered to me. I do have one of the small locking letter mailboxes that are located at a central location for the post office to service our development. Our carrier has started stuffing the soft letter Pacs into my small mailbox filling it and returning the rests back to the post office reporting my mailbox is full. She marks them a delivery attempt was made but the mailbox was full. I get the Amazon notice while sitting in my house allowing me to know she never attempted to deliver the packages to my door. I think a package in a soft pack or padded Pack should be delivered to my door not bent and smushed into the small mailbox size because it can be jammed in there. Then to do that so my box is full and return the rest is unacceptable. My mailbox was emptied Monday and she left my packages at the post office and never tried to deliver again because my mailbox is still empty today and I called the post office and they said I have mail there! What is going on? Both FedEx and Ups will leave my package by the front door which is under a roof overhang protecting it from the rain that may fall. They also knock loudly at least once on my door. When my carrier does rarely deliver to my door she lays it on the top step of my deck leaving it far more exposed for thieves to take and/or exposed to the weather, and never knocks on my door to let me know it is here. Not to mention I do use crutches to get around and to have this blocking my steps is dangerous not only to me but others who may visit. I am waiting to hear back again from the postmaster. I never had this issue in over 20 years of ordering items online. I am very frustrated and unless this is fixed asap I will have to solicit retailers who only use UPS or FedEx. It may cost more but this aggravation is not worth the savings. I hope something will change and bring value to the USPS deliveries again and not be a thing of the past I may have to tell my grandchildren about because they will never know it.

    Mar 31, 2017
  • anon

    I am having a similar problem, Billy. The post office just refuses to deliver packages from Amazon when they are large. They leave a notice in the mail box, even though I am at home to receive the packages, and then enter false statements into their USPS system saying my tiny mail box was too full for the 60 pound bags. They then suggest I drive across town, 20 minutes, to their annex station to load up my car with 60 pounds (I am a disabled senior), drive back and try to carry it all upstairs. These are products for which I paid a shipping fee, so why am I responsible for delivery and not the post office? I have been researching this "postal" problem and have traced it back as far as 2014, with no solution yet. The post office seems to like the partnership with Amazon.com and wants to be paid (this contract saved their jobs), but they don't deliver!

    Apr 25, 2017
  • anon

    I am having a similar problem, Billy. The post office just refuses to deliver packages from Amazon when they are large. They leave a notice in the mail box, even though I am at home to receive the packages, and then enter false statements into their USPS system saying my tiny mail box was too full for the 60 pound bags. This is not true; the mail man did not want to carry them upstairs! They then suggest I drive across town, 20 minutes, to their annex station to load up my car with 60 pounds (I am a disabled senior), drive back and try to carry the heavy parcels upstairs. These are products for which I paid a shipping fee, so why am I responsible for delivery and not the post office? I have been researching this "postal" problem and have traced it back as far as 2014, with no solution yet. The post office seems to like the partnership with Amazon.com and wants to be paid (this contract saved their jobs), but they don't deliver!

    Apr 25, 2017
  • anon

    I find buying products overseas very rewarding but last Friday March 24,2017 I received one package ripped open and the content stolen.My wife went to the local Post Office and the clerk was rude,verbally abusive when asking her what happened with the package.She shouted at my wife when she attempt to retrieve the open package.This is not the first time something like this happens.The Post Office where this occurred was Carlin,Nevada.

    Mar 26, 2017

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