This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS - See his portfolio and get alerts BEFORE every trade. Learn more NOW!

How to Get Your Gifts to Show Up On Time

Speed: Get it fast
Speed doesn't usually come free, but you get what you pay for by chipping in a bit extra to get your gifts under the tree on time.

Amazon bases its whole Amazon Prime ecosystem of video streaming, book lending and express shipping around this idea. For $79 a year (or, soon, $8 a month), Amazon will ship any item in two days while offering access to streaming movies and video and titles from the Kindle Library service.

That makes the Seattle-based online marketplace a great option, but still not the fastest. The folks at online customer service site Stella Service measured the average shipping speed of online retailers and found that the average Amazon package takes 2.7 days to arrive. That's quick, but still only good for third place just ahead of The Gap (GPS) (2.8 days) but behind Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) site HPShopping.com (2.5 days), tech and novelty site Newegg (2.3 days) and Amazon's online shoe shop Zappos (2 days flat).

Those all fell well below the 3.5-day national average. Amazon fares a bit better on returns, though, taking only 4.3 days while the rest of the retail world takes roughly eight. If you're still a bit unsure of the items you're checking off your loved ones' lists, Apple (AAPL), L.L. Bean, Best Buy and Williams-Sonoma (WSM) all take fewer than five days to process returns and refunds.

Handling: Get it there in once piece
Retailers can offer you prices and promises, but what they often can't do is truck over your item themselves.

Some sites try this approach with third-party companies such as Amazon partner Lasership -- basically somebody in a car who takes your package from the nearest fulfillment center and drops it off at your door -- but usually you're going to have to go through a shipping company. Unless you're a strong DHL adherent, that means using UPS (UPS - Get Report), FedEx (FDX - Get Report) or the U.S. Postal Service.

So which one keeps your holiday gifts safest? Popular Mechanics set out to answer this question two years ago when it took packages, stuffed them with a three-axis accelerometer, thermometer and a data logger to measure movement, g-force, temperature, orientation and other factors. If the packages they shipped were flipped, jostled, flung, overheated or frozen, they were going to know about it.

So what did they find? A mixed bag. If your item is going to be particularly sensitive to flipping, don't give it to the postal service, which flipped packages 12.5 times during a three-day trip. FedEx was somewhat better with seven flips per trip, but UPS only needed to move packages an average of four times during their journey. That's an extremely soft touch given the competition.

Unfortunately, UPS has no problem chucking your item around like a rugby ball when it departs and arrives. The packages registered an average of two acceleration spikes of 6 g's or greater per trip. That's the equivalent of dropping it 2.5 feet each time it's loaded on and each time it comes off the truck. FedEx is similarly rough, tossing packages 3.1 times per trip. The USPS shows a bit more restraint by keeping the drops to 0.5 for each package.

Meanwhile, if your present can't take huge swings in temperature, FedEx is your best bet. They kept the average temperature swing for packages at 26.1 degrees, while climates in UPS trucks and facilities varied by 29.8 degrees and USPS went through hot and cold flashes that varied by 32 degrees.

All three shipping companies had one very important feature in common, though: If they got packages labeled "Fragile" or "This Side Up," they flipped and flung them all the more. You're better off affixing a sticker that reads "Use me as a warehouse soccer ball."

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

RELATED STORIES:



Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
2 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Try it NOW
Only $9.95
Try it NOW
14-Days Free
Try it NOW

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
AMZN $383.74 -0.23%
FDX $174.92 -0.70%
UPS $100.66 -0.82%
AAPL $128.89 -0.36%
FB $79.92 0.40%

Markets

DOW 18,050.24 -153.13 -0.84%
S&P 500 2,092.08 -15.70 -0.74%
NASDAQ 4,949.5230 -30.3780 -0.61%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs