UPS is expanding the Saturday ground pickups and deliveries program that it began testing it Atlanta, Philadelphia and Los Angeles last year.
Availability of Saturday service already is growing in those three cities, and will arrive in 15 more major metro areas this month. UPS added it is looking to bring the weekend option to almost 4,700 U.S. cities and towns ahead of the upcoming holiday shipping season, and wants to expand to about 5,800 markets in 2018.
In order to increase Saturday delivery and pickup efforts, UPS is allowing retail partners to leverage ship-from-store capabilities, and also is touting availability of more than 8,000 UPS Access Point alternate delivery locations, while making no additional investment in buildings, vehicles or trucks. The shipping company expects to fill more than 6,000 new jobs by the time the Saturday program is fully expanded.
When UPS talked about testing Saturday services last summer, it seemed like home deliveries were the main focus of the test, but the announcement the company is making this week encompasses a more fully realized strategy to add a sixth business day to its entire operation.
Making more home deliveries on Saturdays certainly should help UPS's bottom line, as the company earns more money from residential deliveries, and those deliveries are growing fast on the back of e-commerce. Still, this expansion is more about giving retailers and customers more flexibility and more options.
UPS noted that having Saturday ground pickup as an option will help online retailers using ship-from-store capabilities to achieve Monday deliveries for the vast majority of the U.S. population. UPS said its own research showed that retailers say 46% of customers abandon a shopping cart for reasons that include shipping time taking too long, and 62% of shoppers select ground delivery. Now, customers can get packages on Saturday that they previously would have received two days later, and businesses using Saturday as an additional ship-and-receive day also get an extra day to turn inventory faster, utilize space more efficiently and increase productivity.
The logistics sector has been experiencing some shake up in the last couple of years with the arrival of new on-demand delivery and other express delivery models, and the rise of potential new players like Amazon. UPS seems to get the idea that it shouldn't stand still as this change occurs. The company has continued to expand flexible delivery programs, like Access Point and its related smart locker pickup option, and is experimenting with drone delivery. By picking up and delivering on Saturday, UPS is sending the message that it won't take a day off when its partners and customers need it the most.