One of the most anticipated product launches of the year, short of a coronavirus vaccine, is now underway. Express delivery giants UPS (NYSE: UPS) and FedEx (NYSE: FDX) are utilizing a host of logistics capabilities to import the Apple iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Air, and then deliver them to retail stores, distribution centers or customers’ homes.
With customers ordering more online because of challenges associated with being in public during the pandemic, Apple is using its more than 300 stores as local distribution centers, according to a report by Bloomberg. UPS and FedEx will pick up orders at stories for final delivery. Apple will analyze the delivery address and decide the best distribution option.
Apple began fulfilling orders on Friday, but UPS was busy before prepositioning products in 20 countries.
Multiple UPS divisions, including global freight forwarding, UPS Airlines and small package ground delivery are involved in the Apple rollouts. The UPS Customer Solutions group, which acts as a single interface for large customers that require customized supply chain plans, is synchronizing transportation from factories in China to final delivery.
In the U.S. UPS used its fleet of freighters and all-cargo planes chartered from other operators to fly the Apple devices to its global air hub in Louisville, Kentucky, where they were temporarily stored. The integrated logistics provider ran a special sort operation at the Worldport dedicated solely to collecting the phones and tablets in groups by destination. On Oct. 22, the day prior to launch, package handlers at Worldport unloaded hundreds of thousands of shipments onto conveyor belts for sorting throughout the 5.2 million square foot facility. They included both single devices destined for customers and large shipments of phones to Apple Stores and other retailers. The high-tech system has scanners that read the smart label on each package and route it through 155 miles of conveyor belts to an outbound chute, where they are placed in containers for loading onto outbound UPS flights head for destinations across the U.S.
“It’s a big launch, it’s a lot of package volume, which is why we have the special sort dedicated just to Apple shipments. We add additional employees to our small package sort, giving us the capability to support this launch,” said Garry Kelley, Worldport Second Day air hub manager said in a UPS news release.
Apple said its distribution center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, prepared iPhones and iPads for shipment to stores and customers across the East Coast and Canada. FedEx is also delivering products directly to customers’ homes.