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2018 Peak Performance Improves as Parcel Carriers Learn from the Past

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As the holidays disappear into the rearview mirror once again and we return to routine for another year, it's interesting to pause and take stock of performance records during peak season.

It was notable this year, for example, how few headlines there were regarding shipping delays or frustrated customers decrying late deliveries. The question is, did 2018 peak performance finally shake off the disruption and delays that have plagued previous seasons?

Major parcel carriers have handled the blur of peak season more effectively this year.

A report in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) confirms as much, in which Capacity CEO Jeff Kaiden informs us that even the infamous post-Thanksgiving order rush was managed well by Capacity and parcel carriers alike.

As our reports on past holiday periods have shown, carriers haven't always been able to handle the holiday rush. While e-commerce has exploded in the past few years, parcel carriers have struggled to walk the tightrope of adequate staffing. As with rising costs in US trucking, the upward trend on wages as a result of shipping so many more packages makes balancing recruitment spend a key challenge.

While the 2017 peak was better than most, 2018 saw even better performance rates, with ShipMatrix data showing that UPS achieved a 98.5% of packages delivered on time and FedEx reaching 97.6% (based on deliveries made from November 18th to December 29th, 2018). The latter increase marks only a fractional improvement for FedEx, but UPS managed an impressive 3.2% increase over its previous year.

Analysts point to earlier hiring in the transport and logistics sector as the likely source of improved performance. Past years have seen carriers beef up their workforce much closer to the wire, which has perhaps resulted in a lack of quality control and higher turnover at a crucial time of year.

Capacity team packing boxes

Here at Capacity we turned to our existing team members and a handful of new recruits to successfully weather the storm, as Jeff Kaiden explains in the WSJ piece:

"We relied mostly on employee overtime and some temporary staffing to meet demand. Despite some wage pressure, we had no trouble coming up with additional bodies.”

In terms of carrier performance, we also noticed an uptick in service levels across several providers. While FedEx was good and UPS served us as expected, perhaps the most unlikely candidate won the day for exceptional service: the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Although it has a somewhat dated and unsatisfying reputation among consumers, from a commercial perspective we found USPS to be Capacity's most responsive and flexible shipping partner this year. From providing extra transport equipment to managing non-standard requests during their busiest period, we would certainly like to single USPS out for special praise at this crucial time of year for our business.

With another successful peak season in the bag and 2018 peak performance on the rise, we look forward to fine-tuning our operation further still, delivering even greater fulfillment for our clients and their customers over the next twelve months.