May 16, 2013, 10:34 AM

Couriers send a message: We’re ready to serve online retailers

And same-day delivery prices are coming down, says the head of a renamed trade group.

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Consumers looking to have an online order delivered the same day they ordered it had to pay a high premium—$15 to $75—just a few years ago, says Rob Johnstone, president of the Customized Logistics & Delivery Association, which until this month was known as the Messenger Courier Association of America. But today growing demand from online retailers and other shippers for more shipping options, at lower rates, has forced his group’s members to change their business models and expand their services.

The range of fees for same-day delivery is now about $4 to $50, depending on the size and type of products ordered and how far the delivery person has to travel, Johnstone says.

“With larger companies like Amazon.com Inc. driving down shipping prices to consumers, our industry has been finding ways to meet the demand for lower prices charged to retailers,” he says. “Our members are using more technology, and serving denser, big city areas where they can deliver for multiple customers and charge lower prices.” Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Many of the group’s more than 450 member companies are also expanding the services they offer shippers. For example, many members now offer coordinated warehousing and delivery services with larger delivery vehicles to accommodate a wider range of shipping needs, Johnstone says.

The expanded range of services led the industry association to change its name at its annual meeting earlier this month, Johnstone says.  The prior name “does not tell the story of what our members do today,” Johnstone says.

The association aims for its new name to show that the group’s member companies are prepared to design customized shipping and warehousing services based on a client’s particular needs, he says. For example, some will offer warehouse space and delivery trucks that can handle deliveries of dozens of TVs a day to a particular urban area or region, and allow consumers to schedule deliveries at convenient times. Some also offer “white glove” delivery services, which not only delivers a TV but sets it up for the retailer’s customer, he adds.

Johnstone adds that association members have also been investing in new technologies to operate more efficiently, such as deploying mobile devices that scan products as they’re received from a retailer and when they’re delivered to a retailer’s customer.

More information on providers of fulfillment and delivery services can be found here.

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