In Chicago this weekend, job applicants will interview at a recruiting event to become temporary UPS drivers. It’s part of an effort by the shipping giant to hire as many as 95,000 seasonal workers across the country to help meet the demand from online Christmas shoppers.
UPS is working to avoid what happened last year, when a rush of last-minute online orders and bad weather led to a public relations nightmare: UPS was late in delivering some Christmas gifts.
To help with the surge of demand last year, UPS eventually hired some 85,000 workers during the holiday shopping season. But it had only hired 55,000 initially. This year, it is taking no chances by hiring more temp workers, and hiring them all earlier in the season.
"UPS will flex its air and ground network with more temporary processing capacity,” says UPS Spokesperson Susan Rosenberg. “And that is everything from added work shifts to sort packages, as well as mobile sorting and delivery centers that are pop-up in some fast-growth locations.”
Rosenberg says UPS began planning for this holiday season on December 26 last year, including “collaborating with the shippers for better volume forecasting.”
Last year, there was a burst of last-minute orders, which, combined with major snow storms, worked against UPS.
“A lot of the retailers were pushing the last date for delivery back as far as they could to compete with Amazon,” says Yory Wurmser, a retail analyst with eMarketer, an e-commerce consulting firm.
This year, retailers are adding another complexity by changing up how they ship in the first place.
"A lot of retailers are shifting their fulfillment models to shipping from stores. So there’s going to be a big increase in pick-up points,” says Wurmser.
That’s likely to put even more pressure on shippers like UPS this holiday season, as holiday shoppers increase their reliance on shipping. Online orders are forecast to increase 16.6 percent this holiday season, and are likely to see double-digit gains for several years to come, according to eMarketer.