Monday, March 31, 2014

Controversy Over the 2013 Holiday Shipping Mishap

Over the holidays, consumers reported receiving a rather high volume of damaged packages and goods shipped via UPS, United States Postal Service (USPS) and FedEx. In previous articles, blame was placed heavily on mail carriers for the inconvenience, but recently, mail carriers have rebutted, claiming that the reason why many packages were damaged (or not received at all) was due, in part, by poor packaging practices on behalf of retailers themselves.

FedEx was one of the mail carrier companies to comment. Fred Smith, Chief Executive at FedEx stated in a Wall Street Journal article, “a significant part of the industry's Christmas-delivery mess stemmed from problems on the part of retailers," stating also that, "retailers claimed packages had been tendered to FedEx and UPS for delivery to their customers before they actually were. In addition, labels were often affixed incorrectly, items weren't properly packaged and subject to damage."

Read the WSJ article for more information, including statements from retailers and mail carriers.

This holiday shipping mishap serves as a good learning experience for both retailers and mail carriers. As online retail continues to grow, both parties need to prepare themselves for busy shipping seasons ahead and work to improve operations and policies.

To ensure quality service and customer satisfaction, take a look at these tips from industry experts:

  • Frequently test your packaging to be sure items arrive in good condition. Consider the effects of extreme temperatures on products and carefully package fragile items. 
  • Review the terms of your contracts with mail carriers and be sure they are meeting service level agreements for damaged packages. 
  • Be clear about your shipping policies on your website, including important cutoff dates to avoid misunderstanding/miscommunication between your company and customers. 
  • Keep in close contact with mail carriers and inform them of any last-minute deals that may cause a surge in orders needing to be shipped. 
  • Be sure that shipping and return labels are securely fastened to your packages before sending. 
  • Offer customers tracking information for their packages. 

by Samantha Warner
Marketing Extraordinaire