- USPS posted the best on-time delivery rate in peak season 2018 with 98.8% of Parcel Select deliveries made on time, followed closely by UPS at 98.3% on time and FedEx at 97.6%, according to data from ShipMatrix reported by several media outlets.
- UPS improved its on-time rate the most of the three carriers, up 3% compared to last season. The other two carriers improved by less than 1%. No carrier has yet released its peak season 2018 volume.
- All three carriers made concrete efforts to boost capacity ahead of peak season, and these stats are the first indication of investments paying off.
At first glance, the strongest takeaway from this early peak season data is UPS' improvement in on-time deliveries — particularly notable since it jumped from 95.3% to 98.3% in just one year.
In September, the company announced it would hire 100,000 seasonal employees — a 5% boost from previous years. The carrier also spent billions in 2018 to add aircraft and vehicles and invested in automation, projecting a resultant 350,000-400,000 pieces per hour of sorting capacity in the U.S. each year from 2018 to 2020.
All of these upgrades, along with an additional delivery day in some markets, appear to have delivered the capacity promised.
FedEx's peak season story, on the other hand, has been more mixed. The company announced the six-day weeks common during peak season would be a permanent feature in 2019, meaning that much of the capacity building for peak would stick around in the new year. The carrier said in September it had been working on building capacity for this move for years, building 15 new hubs, integrating robotics and artificial intelligence into some operations and hiring 55,000 new workers.
But then in December, FedEx CEO Fred Smith announced on an earnings call that the company will offer voluntary buyouts to some U.S. and international employees through 2019 and into 2020, offering various reasons for a squeeze on profitability in recent months.
That being said, on time deliveries did improve for the carrier if only slightly suggesting that technology upgrades have somewhat paid off.
It's easy to see this picture as UPS on the rise and FedEx on the decline, but ShipMatrix founder Satish Jindel said not to write off FedEx since UPS had a lot more room to improve from it's 2017 on-time status, and shippers are unlikely to be able to sense a less-than-1% difference in on-time rates, reported Commercial Appeal.