Supply chain disruptions are a common occurrence that brands need to be prepared for. Currently, there are strong indications that the United Teamsters, who represent UPS drivers, might go on strike. Considering the potential impact of such an event and UPS's significant role in ecommerce operations, it's crucial for businesses to take proactive measures.
The team here at Wonderment interviewed some friends and came up with some tips, to provide a concrete set of strategies that will help you cope effectively with a possible strike. The proposed steps will not only assist in maintaining your brand's resilience but also ensure that customer satisfaction remains a priority during such challenging times.
Stay Informed: Monitor the situation closely, pay attention to updates from both UPS and the teamsters union. Wonderment will be sharing updates as they become relevant and helpful for brands, to help you plan and communicate better.
Communicate with Your Customers: If a strike becomes imminent, be upfront and honest with your customers about potential delays or disruptions. For example:
Set expectations early to avoid dissatisfaction and negative experiences.
Offer solutions such as different shipping options, where possible, and consider putting a notification on your site, like a banner or message pre- or post- checkout reminding people that delivery times may be less predictable than normal.
This will be affecting everyone, so it's likely that customers will encounter this messaging elsewhere as well.
Reconsider Timing Your Sales: If you were going to be running a sale during the early part of the strike, reconsider the timing and see if you can move it out a week or two. If there is a strike, it's likely going to be short and things will return to normal relatively quickly after some delays. Try to avoid overlapping the sale with your strike, which is otherwise a recipe for headaches.
Identify Alternative Shipping Providers: If UPS is a major part of your logistics, now would be a good time to explore moving lightweight packages to USPS.
Aaron Rubin, CEO of ShipHero shared: If UPS strikes and you use UPS, it will hurt your business. FedEx will not take the excess volume without penalties, so you need to keep your FedEx volume roughly inline with your historical volume. Shift the volume on sub-4lb items to USPS and don't run any sales to prevent package volume spikes.
Chad Carleton, CEO of Good Company Fulfillment also shared:
We’ve prepared by contacting USPS, FedEx, and DHL to discuss redirecting package volume and any volume constraints that they may need to implement. We anticipate the majority of packages to end up with USPS, but all carriers have been accommodating. Making calls to the station managers of each carrier and establishing a direct connection was a good choice.
- Update Your Stalled Shipping Email: Even if you don't regularly use UPS, you may be affected by the surge in volume on other carriers that impacts your customer's experiences. This is a perfect time to review your Stalled Shipment email and make sure it's up to date.
Chad also added, "We intend to use services like Wonderment to monitor carrier performance in real time and determine which carrier is the most optimal as the situation evolved.
With a massive shift in volume that will occur, should UPS strike, the situation will be an evolving one. Having insight into carrier performance and being able to make intelligent decisions keeps us nimble and as proactive as possible.
We recommend our clients remain responsive and communicative, and to coordinate their desired backup plan based on cost and transit time to their shipping provider."
Thank you to our friends Aaron Rubin, CEO of ShipHero and Chad Carleton, CEO of Good Company Fulfillment for contributing to this post.