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Jul 14, 2023

What Online Retailers Need to Know About the Possible UPS Strike

With a potential UPS strike looming, online retailers must prepare for the potential impact. Here's what to know if Teamsters contract talks fail.

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With talks between UPS and the Teamsters Union reaching an impasse, UPS workers are slated to strike at the end of the month. With still some time left before the end of July, it is important for online retailers to understand the potential impact of a UPS strike and how to navigate the situation effectively. In this article, we will review the key details surrounding the UPS strike, the possible consequences for online sellers, and actionable steps that can be taken to mitigate any disruption.

Topics we will be exploring in this article include:

Understanding the UPS Strike 

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (also known as the Teamsters Union) is a labor union of approximately 340,000 UPS workers across the U.S. and Canada that recently voted to authorize a strike if a deal is not reached before the contract expiration date at the end of the month. The main reason for the strike is attributed to the fact that a strike may be the only option to secure additional benefits for some of the company’s lowest-paid workers

Potential Disruptions to Package Deliveries 

A UPS strike would have far-reaching implications for package deliveries, potentially causing delays and increased shipping costs from alternative companies. It is no secret that UPS is a major player in the shipping industry. After all, the company alone transports around 6% of the United States' gross domestic product (GDP). Therefore, the strike could lead to a significant supply chain disruption that mirrors stoppages experienced during the pandemic. 

UPS Contingency Plans & Alternative Shipping Options

While UPS has contingency plans in place, online retailers need to explore alternative shipping options sooner rather than later. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has already shared that it can handle extra demand sparked by a UPS Strike with its new service: UPS Ground Advantage. There is also another shipping option, FedEx. FedEx has encouraged businesses to consider working with them immediately to ensure that business runs smoothly.

The Impact on Online Retailers

A reliable shipping partner to a business is like Cinderella and her glass slipper - it’s a perfect fit. The longer a business works with the same shipping partner, the more seamless the shipping process becomes. 

A UPS strike is like Cinderella losing her shoe at the ball; she still gets where she is going - she just might not be as sure-footed.  

Potential Delays and Increased Shipping Costs

A UPS strike could result in significant delays in package deliveries, causing frustration among customers expecting prompt service. Additionally, online retailers may have to explore alternative shipping options, which could come with increased shipping costs, impacting product margins. 

Supply Chain Disruptions

The disruption to UPS’s operations during a strike can have a waterfall effect on the entire supply chain. To help prepare for this, inventory management and order fulfillment strategies should be assessed now rather than later. That way, potential disruptions can be addressed before the strike hits at the end of the month. 

How this helps: By closely monitoring stock levels, diversifying suppliers, and maintaining clear communication with customers, online retailers can effectively navigate any disruptions caused by a UPS strike. 

How to Mitigate the Impact of a UPS Strike

As an online retailer, some key efforts can be made to minimize the impact of a UPS strike on business operations: 

1. Diversify Shipping Partners

Online retailers should consider adding more shipping partners to their repertoire. This can help reduce dependency on UPS and ensure operations continuity in case any other strikes arise.

2. Communicate with Customers

Proactively informing customers about potential delays and providing alternative shipping options like USPS or FedEx can help make sure everyone is in the know. Keeping everything transparent and addressing concerns right away can also help retain a customer’s trust and loyalty. 

3. Optimize Inventory Management

Online retailers should optimize their inventory management practices to minimize the impact of delayed deliveries. By closely monitoring stock levels and implementing inventory technology strategies, retailers can mitigate the risk of running out of stock and improve order fulfillment efficiency.

4. Explore Local Delivery Options

Utilizing local delivery services can be an effective way to soften the impact of a UPS strike. Partnering with local/regional couriers or offering same-day delivery can ensure faster delivery times and minimize disruptions for customers located in specific areas.

5. Evaluate Pricing and Shipping Strategies 

Online retailers should review their pricing and shipping strategies to see if they can handle a potential increase in shipping costs. Look at the profit margins and see if product prices can be adjusted. If increasing the price is not possible to keep the product competitive, use other tools like free shipping or discounted rates to win the sale.

6. Stay Informed and Flexible

Stay up-to-date on the latest information regarding the UPS strike and adapt accordingly. Continue to monitor the negotiating progress between UPS and the Teamsters and make any needed adjustments as the situation unfolds.

Final Thoughts

As negotiations between UPS and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters falter, the possibility of a UPS strike still looms large. Online retailers must be prepared to navigate potential disruptions to deliveries and customer satisfaction. By diversifying shipping partners, optimizing inventory management, and maintaining open communication with customers, online retailers can navigate the UPS strike and ensure operations stay as normal as possible.

Stay informed. Stay flexible. Take proactive measures to minimize the disruption caused by a potential UPS strike. 

Stay Vigilant with Zenventory

Let our team of product experts show you how Zenventory can help you navigate a potential UPS strike with ease. Book a free consultation to see how the platform can help you gain effortless inventory management, powerful shipping management tools, and unlock shipping discounts. Book time with our team today!   


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