Skip to content

OM in the News: UPS Tries to Increase its E-Commerce Efficiency

September 16, 2014

uosIn 1998, as much as 85% of e-commerce purchases were shipped between businesses. But along came Amazon, which helped convince a generation of Americans to buy even humdrum household items like diapers and toiler paper online rather than at the store. UPS drivers who used to drop off a bunch of heavy packages each day at one retailer, now make several stops scattered across a neighborhood, delivering one lightweight package per household. The shift required more fuel and more time, increasing the cost to deliver each package.

Last Christmas season, nearly 60% of all U.S. deliveries by UPS were e-commerce packages to consumers, compared with about 40% for all of 2012. Today, UPS’s haul includes much of Amazon’s 2-day-delivery Prime business. On residential routes, as much as 1/3 of trucks are filled each day with Amazon packages. And last Christmas, when UPS was overwhelmed by a pileup of online shipments at its massive Louisville facility, there were hundreds of trailers stacked up filled with Amazon orders.

UPS’s responses, reports The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 12, 2014): (1) Increase spending on new technology and extra manpower by 21% to $2.5 billion in 2014; (2) A pricing change that will encourage UPS customers to use boxes that fit the items being shipped, freeing up space in trucks for additional deliveries, or else pay extra; (3) Major savings from its route-optimization system, Orion. (Orion analyzes millions of pieces of data to predict the most efficient way to deliver and pick up packages along each driver’s route. Every mile cut saves the company $50 million a year, with half of UPS’s delivery routes in the U.S. using Orion by 2015.); and (4) My Choice, a service that alerts customers the day before a home delivery is set to arrive, provides an estimated delivery time and lets customers tell the driver where to leave the package. (Already 10 million customers have signed up for the $40/year service).

Classroom discussion questions:

1. How has OM helped UPS’s efficiency?

2. What new threats does UPS face in its shipping business?

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Supply Chain Management Research

Andreas Wieland’s supply chain management blog for academics and managers

better operations

Thoughts on continuous improvement: from TPS to XPS

%d bloggers like this: