Retailers race to the top with free, fast delivery http://usat.ly/1uqt7wx "Last-minute delivery poses tough challenges for retailers. They risk customer anger if they fail to deliver and must pay a premium to shippers to get the service, sometimes jeopardizing a profit. "It might hurt the bottom line, but if they don't offer free and fast shipping the fear is that somebody else will," Steve Osburn, Kurt Salmon's supply chain expert, said. UPS angered thousands of customers last year when guaranteed-delivery packages arrived days after Christmas. UPS blamed bad winter weather and a greater than expected boom in online shopping. "Retailers and shippers are going to have to be exponentially better at execution than they were last year," Osburn said. UPS, FedEx and USPS, the nation's largest shippers, say they are ready to handle the increased demand. After last year's experience , FedEx and UPS say they have made big changes to prepare for the expected surge. The U.S. Postal Service will switch to seven-day package delivery after Thanksgiving, as it did last year, to accommodate the increases."