The Comunicano Daily for Wednesday December 25 2013
Positioning-Apple is A Products Company, Google Is A Service

For Some Santa Didn't Come

There's a lot of anger and animosity being directed to online e-tailers like Amazon and the delivery companies, UPS and FedEx for not getting the presents to their intended recipients on time. I'll take a contrarian's view point and applaud the logistical giants one and all for doing the right thing. Sure, many children and adults were dissapointed, but when the thoughts of what else may have happened race through my mind, the crisis counselor in me says that UPS and FedEx made the right decisions.

So what if presents arrive a few days late...Better a day late that than not at all in my book.

Let's start with UPS and Fed Ex, both companies which are often under appreciated, clearly made the right moves in not having drivers and warehouse staff, many who already were working overtime hours and extra days not deliver on Christmas Day. Not only did it make for good fiscal sense for the companies, as the overtime would have been directly impacting their bottom lines, but what has been overlooked by many is the health and welfare of the drivers-who also need the day off.

They want and often need to be with their families so by not forcing the drivers to work the companies didn't wreck the plans they made, or give their families a less than happy holiday. Now imagine if the overtimed and overtired drivers got into a fatal accident because the public wanted their packages on Xmas eve. Those are big trucks, and an already overworked person driving around in holiday traffic in any size vehicle is a danger on our roads. So, yes,  call the decisionmakers at FedEx and UPS over cautious. But don't call them callous because some presents didn't arrive. There's a certain point where not changing plans makes sense and this was one of those examples as so far we haven't heard of a UPS or FedEx driver overturning a vehicle racing to make sure the presents were delivered on time..

As for Amazon-beyond the apologies and the credits the reality is they are migrating to their own delivery companies to augment what UPS and FedEx do. In some cases its great, but in other cases it's just so so...

As for what can be done...well, part of the problem lands at the feet of the online retailers. Last minute sales, lead to unanticipated demand on the logistics companies. There's only so much room on airplanes and in trucks for so many packages. Add in offers of free shipping, gift wrapping (added weight, space) and you start to see how even the best run companies at figuring out how to get the box from point A to point B can underestimate.

People also have the whole year to shop and ship...but being procrastinators simply means waiting until the last minute likely leads to a problem for some. I can see all kinds of things coming from this.

1. More local pick up by Amazon as their predictive delivery knowledge increases

2. Tiered delivery service costs-if you really want it delivered, you'll pay a premium after a certain date. Call it the procrastinators tax.

3. A return to physical retail. Expect the big box stores to get better at competing, targeting offers and having products actually on hand, or close enough to be picked up.

4. The rise of the local suppliers. 

Like anyone, I get upset when something expected isn't delivered on time, but in this case, level headed thinking outweighs the emotional angst that the buying public feels. I for one would rather get the present later versus finding out that a case of wine was damaged in an overturned truck that killed two people because I had to have my wine before Xmas...sorry. The welfare of the drivers and the welfare of the public trumps personal need and as long as the wine isn't damaged, or can be replaced, why should I care...(In my case I asked wine shippers to hold off shipping until after Xmas....)


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I fully agree on the need to give delivery company employees Christmas Day off to allow them to spend the day with their families. Eventually everyone will get their parcels and their electronics will work or the print will still be in their book in spite of the delay. (One has to wonder if the procrastinators thought Amazon had already implemented "drone' delivery.)

The heroes working overtime on Christmas Day this year are the electric power utility workers, many of whom have come from other cities. who are trying to restore power to the over 80,000 customers in the Toronto area as a result of last weekend's ice storm that attacked southern Ontario. At one point over 300,000 customers in Toronto did not have power. My own son's home finally had power restored around 4 p.m. on Christmas Day after a three day outage.

This really defines, along with healthcare personnel, who really needs to be working on Christmas Day.

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