After last year's debacle left a lot of people without presents on Christmas Day, UPS and FedEx say they've spent a lot of time and money making sure there is no repeat this year. For UPS, today will be the busiest day in its history, with 34 million packages to deliver, and it has prepared for it by spending around $500 million on projects, including automated sorting systems that make it a lot easier to train temporary workers, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company hopes the changes will not only help packages arrive on time, but improve profit margins squeezed by the huge increase in online shopping, which means most of its deliveries are now single packages instead of large business orders.
FedEx says it is also prepared for the huge rush of deliveries, and like other firms, it has some "weather nerds" on staff to keep deliveries on track. "It's like a game of chess, where the chess pieces are the airplanes and trucks," FedEx's chief of global operations control tells the New York Times. "The power lies in being able to adjust, in real time, minute by minute." But even with the improvements, analysts say the shipping firms will face a huge challenge dealing with the record volume of deliveries, combined with extra surges in demand caused by online retailers extending cutoff dates to boost last-minute sales. (Read more UPS stories.)