No Time like the Present

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.


Where is the Love from Low Fuel Prices?

If you’re a shipper, you may have noticed your fuel surcharge fees aren’t going down in step with the declining price of oil. That’s because both FedEx and UPS tie their fuel surcharges to the price of diesel, which hasn’t dropped as far or as fast as gasoline prices. Furthermore, both shipping giants recently adjusted how they calculate fuel surcharges, resulting in surcharges that won’t drop as much as they would have under the previous calculation. In some cases, fuel surcharges are even going up.


Keepin’ It Simple?

Steve Jobs was famous for the ingenious simplicity of his designs. And, of course, his single button iPhone, now the standard in smart phoning, is a great testament to the value of simplicity.

As in design, simplicity in pricing, and a related simplicity of choices, are appealing to consumers. There is even empirical evidence that consumers will buy more when they aren’t overwhelmed with too much clutter and too many choices.


Will you be doing your online shopping earlier this season?

For the major express companies, preparation for the next holiday season started right after the last one ended. If you’re one of the many Americans whose packages arrived after Santa did last year, you are undoubtedly glad to hear this. In 2013, an unexpected surge in online orders, combined with winter storms and sparse airplane capacity, resulted in FedEx and UPS missing deliveries for Christmas.


Have you ever used a 3D printer?

It’s no secret what the advent of digital technology has done to mail volume, particularly First-Class Mail. But there’s an emerging digital technology catching hold that could be a boon to the U.S. Postal Service. It’s called 3D printing, and it’s expected to increase the number of lightweight parcels, a segment of the parcel market where the Postal Service excels.


Collaborative Consumption: Shipping Revenue Times Two

Maybe this is the first time you’ve heard the term “collaborative consumption,” but even if it’s not, chances are you’ll be hearing it a lot more. It refers to an economic model based on renting, lending, and sharing goods instead of buying them. In fact, not long ago, Time magazine listed it as one of “10 Ideas That Will Change the World.”


Dim Weight, Bright Idea?

Dim weight. Sounds like something you might call your not-so-smart cousin. It’s actually a way to price parcels based primarily on how much space they take up during transport and delivery.

FedEx is the first major carrier to announce plans to charge prices based on the dimensional weight of all its ground shipments. Retailers and other shippers are bracing for a nasty hike in shipping costs come January 2015, when the FedEx changes take effect.


Serving up Self Service

Postal customers took fewer trips to the Post Office this past holiday season but that doesn’t mean they spent less on postal products. They just conducted more business through alternative channels, such as online at and self-service kiosks. Over the 2013 holiday season, transactions at brick-and-mortar post offices were down 8 percent compared to last year, but transactions through alternative access were up 17 percent, postal officials reported.


Can the Postal Service Deliver the Goods?

The 2013 holiday season turned out to be a particularly eventful one for e-tailers and the shippers that deliver all those packages to your door.

Factors like fewer than average shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and an increasing comfort level with online buying helped push holiday e-commerce up significantly. In fact, demand exceeded expectations and stressed shippers’ capacity, causing some late deliveries of their goods.