Santa Is at Capacity This Christmas
Perhaps the busiest time of the year for e-commerce shopping (and shipping) just got another shipment added to the backlog. Vaccines being shipped out starting this week add more complexity to an already stressed distribution network.
Shopping from home
This is a historic week. The first COVID-19 vaccinations were administered on Monday and have since been shipped out across the country. The potential product of the decade is causing headaches to the national supply chain. A September survey conducted by Pharma.Aero and The International Air Cargo Association showed that only 28 percent of organizations involved in global air transportation felt prepared to handle COVID-19 vaccines.
This year has already been tough for freight and delivery companies; Amazon customers experienced delays early in the pandemic as the e-commerce giant prioritized shipments of cleanings supplies, toilet paper, etc. and delayed shipping nonessential items.
Amazon wasn’t the only company with heavier-than-usual activity. E-commerce as a whole had a banner year and 2020 will mark a pivotal shift to services like online grocery shopping and food delivery apps, which are now seen as necessary aids rather than novel conveniences. U.S. Q3 e-commerce sales jumped 37.1 percent this year compared to Q3 2019.
The giving season
The Washington Post reported on the expected struggles that shipping companies are having, even refusing deliveries for some retailers because they’re simply not able to fulfill them: “Postal employees are reporting mail and package backlogs across the country, and working vast amounts of overtime hours that have depleted morale during another surge of coronavirus infections nationwide… ‘UPS and FedEx have shut us off. Nobody can keep up right now, but we don’t have the luxury of turning people down.’”
As good as the news of the vaccination may be, it is certainly arriving at an inopportune time for smaller brands hoping to gain new customers by completing orders by Christmas morning. Customers have taken to Twitter to let companies like Shutterfly and Crate and Barrel know that their orders are late:
Product review site The Quality Edit recently published a helpful guide to the best holiday gifts along with their shipping deadlines.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the Christmas season was taxing for shipping companies and employees. Add a new vaccine and a year of increased online orders and you have the perfect winter storm. Santa may come a little late this year… or early next year.