September 19, 2013, 10:52 AM

How Crutchfield ships larger items more quickly to online consumers

The consumer electronics retailer relies on UPS Air Freight.

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Going into the holiday season, web and catalog consumer electronics retailer Crutchfield Corp. will have what it considers an edge: shipping orders to customers faster than it did last year.

The 39-year-old merchant, No. 135 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has completely switched over to UPS Air Freight for products that weigh more than 150 pounds, such as large televisions, after using other shipping providers for those shipments. The move is less about cost than customer service, says Kurt Goodwin, Crutchfield’s senior director of sales and operations.

“Prior to working with UPS Air Freight, the total time-in-transit for our larger televisions ranged from six to seven days,” he says. “Also, our customers couldn’t track these freight shipments online the same way they could track our products shipped via UPS. This meant we received a lot of customer service calls inquiring about the status and whereabouts of these orders.”

During testing, Crutchfield found that the UPS service generally cut that time in half, to about three days or less. That moved the retailer to completely switch its shipment of large items to UPS Air Freight by the end of 2012. “We do about a third of our business in the fourth quarter, so it was very important to have the new service integrated by this time,” Goodwin says.

To fully integrate UPS Air Freight, Crutchfield had to implement what Goodwin calls “some very minor” information technology and labeling changes on its end. Crutchfield customers awaiting shipments of their large items can track their purchases via a link the retailer provides them, and which goes to UPS for order tracking.  

UPS ranks first among shipping carriers in Internet Retailer’s Leading Vendors to the Top 1000 E-Retailers guide. The company recently promoted an executive to a newly created position of deployment manager, Global UPS Access Points, a job that UPS says will help it expand its international package-pickup system throughout Europe

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