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Late Christmas Deliveries = Social Media Backlash

By Steve Simmerman | 12/26/2013 | 8:47 AM

Didn't get what you wanted for Christmas due to a late or missed delivery?  It seems lots of people turned to social media to lash out and blame UPS and FedEx.  According to a story by NBC, online spending jumped 9 percent, to $37.8 billion, between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15.  A FedEx spokesperson said they handled 275 million shipments between Thanksgiving and Christmas. FedEx said the volume of air shipments exceeded the capacity of their network, while UPS called it an "extraordinary event". The story went on to say that Amazon apologized to customers with regard to the UPS "failure" in a Christmas morning email and offered various incentives to offset customer's bad feelings.

Nonetheless, disappointed customers turned to social media including the Facebook pages of both carriers as well as Twitter to voice their opinions. It's true that weather did affect delivery capabilities in some parts of the country, a late November Thanksgiving shortened the shopping season and certain shoppers will always procrastinate. But what lessons can we all learn from this "extraordinary event"?

  • Can the network ever handle surges like this?
  • Should online stores incent customers to buy (and ship) sooner rather than procrastinate?

It's hard to say, but one thing is for sure. Online shopping will continue to increase, shoppers will always procrastinate, delivery expectations for online purchases will not subside and social media outlets will continue to be the voice of frustrated shoppers.

And just when you think we are all past the hurdle of buying, picking orders, packing orders and delivering orders in the race toward Christmas joy, many of us in logistics and the world of online shopping now get to prepare for what will likely be another surge in the form of returns. It is a viscous cycle, but the good news is that we have a year to prepare for the 2014 holiday shopping season - we'll see if anything changes this time next year.



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About Steve Simmerman

Steve Simmerman

Steve Simmerman is a Senior Director with JDA. Simmerman has more than 25 years of experience in the supply chain industry including software, consulting and material handling. He has focused his efforts on working with clients to achieve high performance supply chain results through partnerships and creative solutions. He is a member of CSCMP, WERC, and MHIA and is a regular contributor to several industry publications and events. Simmerman holds his undergraduate and MBA degrees from The University of Notre Dame.


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