Feeling the pressure of the holidays this year? Don’t worry—you’re not the only one. It’s not just shippers who struggle this time of year to meet customer demand, but their carriers as well as they rush to meet holiday deliver deadlines amidst surging orders.

This year, UPS® and FedEx® both are finding it difficult to keep up with holiday shipping volumes, which have exceeded expectations and resulted in delayed deliveries for millions of online orders.

Earlier this year, both carriers announced plans for how they intended to meet the holiday demand, but with the surge in volume, one has to wonder whether they’re not regretting hiring more people:


  • FedEx: Despite its ambitious growth expectations, FedEx chose to hire slightly fewer seasonal employees.1
  • UPS: Relying more heavily on automation to handle their increase package traffic, the company had plans to hire about 95,000 temporary workers—the same as last year.2

In other words, both carriers had planned to invest heavily in technology and sorting hubs in order to beef up their capabilities leading into the holiday season. Although this proved to not be enough to offset the need for more manpower, it raises the question…if carriers are incorporating technology into their plans in order to increase efficiency, shouldn’t shippers be doing the same?

It’s especially important during the holiday season for shippers to have access to deep insights and data regarding their shipping profile so delivery dates are met, guarantees made by their carrier don’t slip through the cracks, and money isn’t lost to carrier error.

Despite the investment in technology, sorting hubs, and other innovations, carriers still underestimated just how much shipping volume they’d receive this year—and that’s saying something, given the increase in volume they anticipated. Shippers should pay specific attention to a recent Wall Street Journal article, which stated, “in advance of the busy holiday season, both UPS and FedEx extended delivery windows on some routes, suspended delivery guarantees and refunds for certain weeks and stopped promising to deliver express packages by a certain time in some cases.”

While most shippers won’t be able to get the full picture regarding their Service Failures for another week or two, it’s important to analyze the data from the holiday peak to make sure there are no opportunities for carrier refunds. Both carriers released holiday cut-off dates last week to make sure your packages are delivered on time. What good is the guarantee if the carrier can call “take backs” whenever they want? Does suspending the guarantees mean they won’t honor those previously announced cut-off dates anymore?

Answering these questions can only happen with deep data and insights into your shipping profile. As the holiday season finishes up, make sure you have taken an objective look at your Service Failure data to identify opportunities for refunds.


  1. blogs.barrons.com/stockstowatchtoday/2016/12/12/fedex-a-happy-holiday/
  2. www.nasdaq.com/article/ups-predicts-a-record-holiday-shipping-season–wsj-20161028-00061