The State of U.S. Shipping
Domestic statistics can get lost in the global implications of the shipping industry, but knowing the numbers and what they predict helps business and industry streamline processes, anticipate problems, and manage costs. Shipping demand and parcel volumes are breaking records, and it’s a lot to manage for any enterprise operation. To bring U.S. business shipping challenges into sharper perspective, start with a look at the big picture.
It’s an understatement to say that shipping demands for U.S. businesses are high. For 2021, Pitney Bowes found the following statistics for U.S. shipping:
- 21.5 billion parcels total
- 683 parcels per second
- 59 million parcels per day
- 65 parcels per person
- 166 parcels per household
21.5 billion parcels is an annual record for U.S. shipping, but commercial shipping data is difficult to distinguish from the total volume. With its surging popularity, remote work is a useful metric for estimating rising enterprise shipping demand. Companies are shipping equipment, tools, and other resources to employees in every corner of the country. Add remote employee parcel numbers to U.S. enterprise parcel projections for an estimate of total business shipping volume.
Suffice it to say, shipping demand is at an all-time high.
Disruption and delay
With demand so high, disruption and delay are causing more problems than ever. Supply chain disarray contributes to uneven shipping results, and the volatility of gas prices can interfere with delivery consistency, but such concrete obstacles are far from the only challenges affecting U.S. shipping.
Carrier rates continue to climb, and with the collective impact of seasonal and annual rate increases, shippers — and shipping budgets — are struggling to successfully navigate an increasingly complex market. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS), in a reported effort to accommodate increasing operating expenses, joins private parcel carriers in raising rates for 2023. The amount per parcel is modest, at 3-5 cents, but the cumulative effect of a high-demand market will stretch business shipping budgets even further in the coming year.
Package theft is another rising concern. Several regions report spikes in mail and parcel theft. For companies shipping potentially valuable business resources to remote employees, missing or misdelivered packages can mean extensive replacement and redelivery fees — and lost productivity in the interim.
The bright side
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Domestic shipping prices are high, but international rates are beginning to fall. Planned USPS reforms will provide more funding, and while an influx of funding won’t prevent next year’s rate increase, it should keep USPS rates lower than those of private carriers moving forward.
In just one example of the smart shipping solutions available today — and in good news for remote employees and their employers — smart lockers streamline parcel delivery and secure packages for recipient pickup.
So, while rising rates and other challenges remain, smart shipping management technology, including smart lockers and cloud-based software solutions, are helping business and industry increase efficiency, enhance visibility, track deliveries, compare carriers, and manage costs for an optimized shipping experience.