The demand for shipping services has increased exponentially over the last few months, and not just during the holiday season. As more companies are jumping online, delivery services are struggling to find enough trucks, delivery routes, and drivers to stay ahead.
Late Deliveries and Threatened Reputations
FedEx is currently one of the most reputable companies in the world, renowned for its speedy and reliable shipping services. However, after the current shortages of drivers and trucks, its good reputation is being threatened. Services have been much slower than usual, with late deliveries and shaky guarantees. The reputations of other shipping companies have been threatened in the same way.
December is always the busiest time of year for shipping services, which are expected to perform miracles over a concentrated period. FedEx, UPS, and other services have been able to succeed and earn high customer satisfaction ratings. But this year there has been a massive shortage in trucks. Since the boom in online shopping began, shipping companies have had a very difficult time keeping up with the high demand from stores and consumers alike, and the major shipping companies can barely meet their quotas.
As a result, delivery time guarantees have been lengthened to allow more room for error. For example, it’s not unusual for online stores to require that you order your online goods by a certain day in order to get it in time for Christmas, but during the 2015 holiday rush, consumers had to order by a much earlier date than usual. Furthermore, many companies didn’t offer overnight or two-day shipping, out of the fear that packages wouldn’t make it in time.
This provides a challenge, however, for services like Amazon’s Prime, which guarantees two-day shipping. It took an army of Amazon representatives and service people to get everyone their shipments in time for Christmas.
The threat to the reputation of shipping companies throughout the United States has forced executives to come up with some creative solutions. For most delivery routes, the problem has less to do with having enough workers to man the routes, and more to do with a general lack of delivery trucks. To solve that problem, UPS started renting moving trucks. “UPS uses rental vehicles in some areas of the country to handle the additional package volume this time of year,” UPS spokesperson, Dan Cardillo, told reporters. “However, the majority of customers will see the familiar brown truck when their UPS driver comes to their door.”
Other companies have followed suit, but it has raised some eyebrows. Local police departments have received phone calls from concerned citizens who have seen these rental trucks stopping from house to house.
To keep the world from thinking that their solution to a shipping truck shortage is a grand burglary network, FedEx and UPS have been trying to get the word out that rental moving trucks will be used to make up for shipping shortages.
In general, these companies will likely use rental vehicles only when online orders are especially numerous, as in the end-of-the-year holiday shopping rush. As more and more people shop online, shipping companies will need to acquire more of their own vehicles, in order to meet their needs and avoid brand confusion.