As the holiday shopping season heated up this month, UPS imposed shipping restrictions on major retailers such as Macy's, Gap, Nike, and L.L. Bean. The move signaled that the crush of holiday e-commerce orders was putting overworked delivery networks to the test.
Competing shipping carrier FedEx, meanwhile, has announced shipping surcharges and the acquisition of ShopRunner, an e-commerce platform and subscription service that offers two-day delivery from select retailers.
As for shipping restrictions, FedEx has not confirmed any specific limits on retailers.
"In some cases, volume has significantly exceeded customer projections," Bonny Harrison, director of global media for FedEx, wrote to Cheddar in an email. "We know how important it is to our customers that their packages are delivered on time, and we remain committed to work with them on ways to leverage our network flexibility."
The shipping carrier has hired 70,000 seasonal workers, moved to seven-day operations, and accelerated Sunday delivery capabilities to keep up with the pandemic-fueled demand.
"We project that peak shipping volumes will be up 22 percent year-over-year and have been preparing for the influx of packages for months in advance of an unprecedented holiday season," Harrison wrote.
In the meantime, FedEx is working with retailers and consumers to help reduce pressure on the delivery network.
The company's Buy Online Pickup in Store (BOPIS) network offers small and medium-sized merchants without a brick-and-mortar storefront a physical location for their customers to pick up online orders.
Harrison noted that the last day to ship through FedEx Ground before Christmas is Tuesday, December 15. She also advised customers to sign up for FedEx Delivery Manager to help them track packages or redirect them to one of 60,000 retail pick-up locations. These are located at retailers such as Walgreens, Dollar General, Kroger, and Albertsons.
In this extraordinary year, she added that consumers might want to be more proactive in finishing up their holiday gift-buying.
"Don’t wait until the last minute to ship your holiday gifts," Harrison wrote.