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Shape Up, Ship Out

It helped nail the coffin shut on eToys. It’s the great equalizer between brick and click retail. It’s shipping – and when the U.S. Postal Service didn’t satisfy demand, the United Parcel Service and FedEx saw their opportunity.

And as Cyber Monday joins the popular lexicon as an economic fact – Patti Freeman of Jupiter Research told Squawk Box she expects $32 billion in Web sales for November and December, an 18% jump over 2005 -- Big Brown is bracing for millions more of those online-acquired gift packages to flow through shipping centers like the sprawling UPS facility in Hodgkins, Ill.

CNBC's Mary Thompson visited a UPS plant, just southwest of Chicago, to get an inside look at the mind-boggling scope of holiday goods traffic.

A 2005 survey commissioned by the company concluded that 80% of Internet consumers declared that “a positive delivery experience” would inspire them to return to the same online store in the future – so the numbers could be even higher.

But it’s not just business from eBay, Overstock.com and Amazon.com that’ll test UPS’ mettle: It also partners with home-shopping network QVC, for which it will handle “literally millions of QVC orders in December alone, with some peak days reaching more than 800,000 packages,” according to the shipper.

Let the games begin!