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Holiday shipping surge highlights driver hiring challenges

Holiday shopping season is already underway, and this year is predicted to be another record breaker for online retailers. With this massive surge in e-commerce comes an added strain on an already-stressed shipping industry. Between the ongoing driver shortage and the seasonal increase in the number of packages being shipped, businesses are increasingly recruiting “last-mile” drivers to get those packages to their destinations. The challenge is ensuring safe and skilled last-mile drivers.

Driver Hiring And Pre Screening

The last mile is critical to both the success of the supply chain and customer satisfaction.

The holiday shipping crunch

In 2020, the U.S. Postal Service handled 3 billion packages during the holiday season, representing a 27 percent increase over 2019 and accounting for more than 40 percent of the packages mailed throughout the year.1,2 This year, Deloitte is predicting a record-breaking shopping season, with online sales up 11 to 15 percent from last year.3

The projections are clear: This year’s holiday delivery surge will be among the most intense ever. Shippers will face increased demand for their services and greater pressure to deliver packages and shipments on time. And the last mile is critical to both the success of the supply chain and customer satisfaction.

The expansion of online shopping and the “last mile”

COVID has only accelerated the transformation of the shipping industry, which had already been undergoing a major shift in recent years as more people shop online. The delivery chain that once ended at a department or big box store now often ends at the customer’s doorstep. More retailers are using the delivery services that have popped up in recent years or are hiring their own drivers to help meet customers’ growing expectations and compete with their online counterparts, resulting in rising truck tonnage over the past decade.

In many cases, these last-mile drivers who take products on the final leg of their journey do not need a commercial driver’s license (CDL), which is required of their over-the-road counterparts. This creates a larger pool of potential hires, but it also calls for different tools and metrics to screen drivers early in the hiring process.

Hiring for the last mile

The last mile comes with its own set of challenges. Relative to long-haul trucking, last-mile drivers may encounter more heavy traffic, narrow streets, bicyclists, and pedestrians. They may also find it difficult to locate places to safely pull over to make deliveries, have greater interaction with packages and customers, and drive more variable and unfamiliar routes. All of these factors make it critical for employers to find quality candidates.

Even though last-mile drivers may not need commercial licenses, the increased demand for home delivery and the general shortage of drivers has led to fierce competition for experienced drivers with good driving records. This means that employers need to be able to quickly identify the best possible hires and make offers.

Quickly and effectively meet your last-mile driver needs

With many different reports from county, state, and federal governments—and with uncertain levels of coordination among them—obtaining the information needed to hire drivers for the last mile with speed and efficiency can be challenging. Reports from Verisk’s iiX business consolidate an applicant’s driving history, along with a variety of other reports, to give employers greater insight and support fast, confident hiring. These tools also enable ongoing monitoring of employees throughout their tenure. Verisk driver screening and hiring tools for last-mile drivers include motor vehicle reports (MVRs), background checks, education and employment verification, and information such as Commercial Driver's License Information System (CDLIS) reports where applicable.

Learn more about Verisk’s last mile driver pre-screening and hiring support tools.

Aaron Wise

Aaron Wise is iiX strategic sales manager at Verisk. You can contact him at

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  1. Michael Corkery and Sapna Maheshwari, “With 3 Million Packages to Go, Online Shopping Faces Tough Holiday Test,” The New York Times, updated June 17, 2021. < > accessed on November 1, 2021.
  2. USPS, “A Decade of Facts and Figures,” < > accessed on November 1, 2021.
  3. Deloitte, “Deloitte: Holiday Retail Sales Expected to Increase 7-9%,” September 14, 2021. < > accessed on November 1, 2021.

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