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The Biggest Peak Season in Delivery History––What Will It Mean for You?

Zach Blank


November 2, 2020

If you work in the delivery business, you’ve probably seen the record-breaking numbers brought on by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, shutting doors for many distributors around the world. The culture-shifting COVID-19 epidemic has retailers and carriers bracing for immense volumes of deliveries like they’ve never seen before. Without the proper preparations, some delivery fleets have folded under pressure. And it’s only getting worse.

For most Americans, the arrival of November signals the beginning of the holiday shopping season. This year, the peak season for shopping and delivering will be the most challenging to date. To stay afloat and cash out on the potential profits, here is what you need to know to prepare for the mother of all peak seasons in the delivery industry.

How Do I Prepare for Holiday Deliveries?

To make sure your business is prepared for this epic holiday season, you need to understand the impact COVID-19 has had on ecommerce. Knowing the shift in sales and demands on delivery services will provide the information you need to scale your business operations accordingly. Once you have fully assessed your capacity, the last step before execution is securing the best route optimization software to streamline your workflow. Having the most efficient workflow possible will generate the best outcome for your business this season.


Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, ecommerce was growing at a staggering rate year-over-year. According to an analysis of ecommerce retail penetration by Digital Commerce 360 (formerly Internet Retailer), the percentage of online sales rose from 6.4% of total retail spending in the United States in 2010 to 16% in 2019. Consumers spent nearly $602 billion online with US merchants alone in 2019. The “peak season,” typically defined as the holiday shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States, saw ecommerce penetration hit 18% of all retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2019. All data trends pointed towards 2020 being the largest peak season for ecommerce yet.  

Then came the pandemic.


The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened online retail sales at a rate unimaginable just a few months ago. According to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, a whopping 42% of the US labor force now teleworks from home due to lockdown measures. With millions of Americans at home with nowhere to go, ecommerce has exploded. As of October 2020, research group eMarketer now forecasts US ecommerce sales to reach nearly $795 billion this year, an acceleration of growth that is shifting previous ecommerce projections forward by nearly two years.

That means a lot of packages need to be delivered. In fact, orders have increased to the point where traditional shipping and delivery services such as UPS, FedEx, and USPS are being stretched beyond capacity. Whereas peak season traditionally started in the fall around November, Mike O’Brien of Multichannel Merchant reports the COVID-19 impact has created “peak-like conditions since spring, sending demand and costs soaring.” To offset the costs of expanding supply chains, the major carriers have all imposed peak surcharges ranging from $1.50 to $4 per package on “last-mile” delivery services. Last-mile delivery is the movement of goods from the last distribution center to the final delivery destination, usually a residence––a critical sector of the delivery industry. Even with surcharges on last-mile delivery companies, the added profits may not offset the hassle of increasing capacity. Software giant Salesforce predicts the overall volume of packages to exceed shipping capacity, risking millions of holiday gifts not arriving on time. With a shortage of delivery service looming, alternatives must be explored to address this problem.


As the holiday peak season in 2020 looks to eclipse every sales record known to mankind, retailers are scrambling to find a solution for the exponentially increased demand in delivery services. In a forecast published by Salesforce, retailers are “crowdsourcing last-mile carriers though the gig economy to alleviate the strain placed on traditional carriers.” As ridesharing to restaurants, bars, and airports has decreased due to social distancing and lockdown protocols, a new opportunity has arisen for gig transportation services to thrive this peak season. And those willing to perform personal vehicle delivery of goods may earn a pretty penny for their service during the holiday rush. For many who are unemployed, this seasonal work may provide much-needed income for bills. To savvy proprietors or small business managers, this demand may be the opportunity to hire more workers and expand operations.


While retailers and carriers muster all resources to prepare for the most anticipated peak season in history, there is one crucial factor that will make or break the successful delivery of millions of packages to their destinations: route optimization software. Whether the carrier industry or gig economy, a delivery route planner will be used by every last-mile delivery vehicle to get packages, parcels, and gifts to their ultimate end point.

The efficiency of route optimization cannot be overstated. A great delivery route planner cuts costs in time, fuel, and can increase volume. For shipping and delivery managers, your fulfillment success rides on the speed and accuracy of route optimization software. For this all-important task, there is only one software you can trust: Straightway Route Planner.  


Whether packages, parcels, or food delivery, professionals and gig workers rely on Straightaway. Delivery drivers across FedEx, UPS, DHL, onTrac, and Amazon use Straightaway because of the application’s rich feature set, seamless navigational integration, and industry-leading route optimization. Straightaway incorporates every crucial element necessary to ensure a successful delivery in the most efficient manner possible:

  • Add stops with the snap of a photo: simply take a picture of the address on your mobile device and Straightaway instantly maps the route on your screen.
  • Optimize the fastest route in the quickest amount of time: a best-in-class route optimization algorithm can organize up to 250 stops in the quickest order in just seconds, all while accounting for traffic, road closures, speed limits, and weather conditions in real-time.
  • Navigate without switching apps: Turn-by-turn navigation is built right into Straightaway, keeping your driver’s attention on the road and not on switching app screens for delivery information.

With Straightaway Route Planner, users can save an average of 1 hour over competing delivery route planner apps. Imagine the benefits saving an extra hour could mean for your business:

  • More stops made per hour
  • Avoid traffic during peak hours
  • Save money using less gas
  • Serve more customers without having to hire more employees
  • Allow employees to enjoy more time with their families and avoid overtime pay


Whether you work for an established carrier or are an entrepreneur looking to make a buck or two during the holidays, online shopping and retail orders are going to reach new heights. To maximize your opportunity this peak season, be prepared with the best route planning software available for delivery drivers.

Use what the pros use. Get Straightaway.

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Zach Blank

Zach is the co-founder and CEO of Straightaway.

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