There is no doubt, COVID has ushered in seismic changes to all our of lives in such a short period of time. Shifts in the way we conduct the business of our lives (which normally occurs at a more manageable pace) have been expedited by a global pandemic. Small Business life has not been sheltered. Over the past 10 months, we have seen an increase in business (as have most other e-commerce based small businesses- THANK YOU!-) but it has definitely NOT been business as usual.
Here at Maggie May Clothing, we have seen a dramatic increase in fabric sales as well as D.I.Y. supplies and smaller, ready made garments and accessories. Rather than shipping out large groupings of custom made garments, instead we have been shipping large quantities of single item orders.
This has required us to engage a new skillset- High Volume Shipping and Logistics!
According to an April 2020 RAND article, online shopping increased by 25-30% in the first month of the Pandemic alone (1). Fortunately, for the majority of 2020, deliveries remained stable. But the 2020 holiday season took an exceptional toll on mail delivery systems. A December 21st Washington Post article cites a 14% increase in holiday volume with the US Postal Service and 30% of its workforce unavailable due to COVID exposure/sickness (Feb 2021 Stats). December stats show “FedEx delivered 93.9% of its parcels on time, UPS delivered 96.1%, and the Postal Service, 87.5%. The agency?s drop in performance compared with the previous two-week period held up more than 3.5 million parcels by one or more days (2).” And for the US Postal Service, it seems to be a slow rebound two months into the new year.
Our experience with the US Postal Service seems to follow the stats cited above. The MAJORITY of our packages sent in 2020 were delivered ON TIME with NO DELAYS. SOME of our packages arrived 2-3 days late. And only 2 of our packages arrived 15 DAYS or more LATE. But every package was finally delivered. We had NO lost parcel claims last year.
On January 24, 2021 The US Postal Service increased its parcel delivery rates. However, more delivery delays might be coming. And I expect this to be the “new normal” for some time.
With all that said, here are few other points to consider. The US Postal Service is STILL the fastest delivery system for small business. Even with the January rate increases, the US POSTAL SERVICE is STILL the most ECONOMICAL service in the market. The US Postal Service is an American Institution and it seems patriotic somehow to continue to support them. But, the potential unpredictability of timely delivery may just outweigh these benefits.
At Maggie May Clothing, here is how we are working through these issues:
- We use PRIORITY MAIL SERVICES rather than First Class Parcel Post. This allows packages to be INSURED which means if packages are lost or misplaced, the US Postal Service must reimburse the cost of the goods being shipped. This IS more expensive but it provides both us and you peace of mind that the package is insured for full replacement value. (Unfortunately, this does not apply to International Orders. See #4).
- We are asking customers to ORDER EARLY just in case packages are delayed due to backlogged parcels. (This seems to vary by shipping facility and there is no predictability to it. But it has been our experience most packages are getting backed up at large distribution centers rather than small individual post offices).
- We send YOU TRACKING INFO as soon as the package ships so you have full access to the delivery process. If there is an issue with delivery, we will still continue to handle the issue for you on our end, but with delivery updates, you always know where your package is.
- We ARE searching out OTHER PACKAGE DELIVERY SERVICES that will continue to offer the same affordable shipping rates and are both convenient to both us the Shipper and you the Recipient. We are making provisions for back up Domestic shippers and INSURABLE International Carriers.
We’ll keep you posted!
Business Bevies is a series designed to address small business topics for creatives.