FedEx and UPS are ramping up their holiday hiring while expanding their weekend operations and asking retailers to use their shipping network when there is more slack. And stores are pushing shoppers to buy early and are expanding services like curbside pickup to minimize the need for delivery.
For the last few years, many retailers had been using their own physical stores, in addition to their distribution centers, to fulfill online orders.
But now they are designating some of those stores to handle even higher volumes. Best Buy, for example, converted space in 250 of its 1,000 stores this fall to manage online orders.
The moves come as most of the carriers have been at full shipping capacity for months as shoppers shifted their buying online during the pandemic.
“We are warmed up for what we’re calling the ship-a-thon,” said Brie Carere, chief marketing and communications officer at FedEx. “Like everything else in 2020, this is going to be an unprecedented peak season. We’ve actually seen three years of growth in e-commerce pulled forward. So we are expecting a ton of volume.”
Carole B. Tome, CEO of UPS, told analysts last month she expects “a pretty peaky peak.”
Amazon, which has been growing its own delivery network so it doesn’t have to rely as much on UPS and the U.S. Postal Service, is nonetheless warning shoppers not to wait until the last minute to buy gifts. While the world’s largest online retailer delivers more than half of its packages itself, it still relies on other carriers to get orders to shoppers.
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