UPS Saturday delivery program.

A new program by UPS rolling out in 18 cities will allow retailers to have packages picked up on Saturday for delivery to consumers on Monday — which is one business day earlier than was done before.

For apparel brands and retailers, the service can help quicken inventory turnover.

UPS described the initiative as “one of its largest time-in-transit improvements in the company’s 109-year-history.” The service is for commercial and residential addresses. The rollout includes a social media hashtag campaign: #UPSsaturday. The company said it tested the program last year in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. It expands to 15 other cities this month “with plans for rapid advancement to nearly 4,700 U.S. cities and towns by the holiday shipping season.” Major metropolitan areas being added this month include New York, Chicago and Boston.

The launch is driven by robust e-commerce growth as well as demand for faster delivery times. UPS said the program, once fully implemented by the end of 2018 in 5,800 cities, will add 6,000 new jobs – but will not require “additional investment in buildings, vehicles or trucks.” The announcement followed news last month that UPS was testing drone delivery.

drone test

The UPS drone test was done with a vehicle en route to other sites. 

Teresa Finley, chief marketing officer at UPS, said the addition of another ground operations day “more efficiently utilizes our existing delivery network and offers customers an even faster ground delivery solution. This is an exciting addition to our suite of services. We are confident that it will help our customers capture market growth.”

UPS said that it will now offer “a full range of transportation options covering six days a week, expanding customer choice and offering industry-leading flexibility.” This includes 8,000 UPS Access Point locations as well as UPS My Choice, which are designed to enhance “a shipper’s ability to get packages to consumers where and when they want them delivered” – which is a key consumer demand that is driving the growth of e-commerce.

For retailers, the benefit, UPS noted, is “fewer lost sales due to abandoned online shopping carts, enhanced ship-from-store options and fewer items being out of stock.” This service is being rolled out as retailers also adopt technologies to help manage their inventories, reduce out-of-stocks and provide an improved shopping experience for consumers – online and in stores. From an operations perspective, having an added day lets retailers and brands turn inventory over faster while increasing overall efficiency.

“Saturday ground pickups will enable online retail shippers utilizing a ship-from-store strategy to achieve Monday deliveries for the vast majority of the U.S. population,” UPS said. “In the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study, retailers report that 46 percent of customers abandon a shopping cart for reasons that include the shipping time taking too long, and 62 percent of shoppers select ground delivery.”

The rollout this month of Saturday shipping includes metropolitan-statistical areas such as St. Louis, San Francisco, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Denver, among others.

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