August 30, 2007, 12:00 AM

Where’s My Package?

(Page 2 of 2)

A retailer’s openness to multiple options in shipping rates and packaging, of course, will help its delivery services keep up with the fast pace of change in e-commerce.

The customer wants it at noon on Tuesday
In addition to the trend toward dimension pricing, retailers are facing more pressure from customers for more delivery options. Some delivery companies including FedEx, Velocity Express, NVC Logistics Group and Yellow Transportation Inc. offer delivery to homes during particular time windows, and most offer web-based systems to manage the outgoing flow of shipments as well as the ability to track shipments online.

“Time-specific delivery is definitely a growing trend,” says Kevin Collins, senior vice president of business development for Velocity Express, which operates 150 distribution centers in 43 states and delivers to stores as well as homes. “In the past, just delivering on a specific day was a big accomplishment, but now with our tracking system we can deliver at a specific time.” Velocity equips 6,000 drivers with handheld scanners that transmit delivery status to a retailer’s web site as well as to Velocity itself.

FedEx Corp., which has been experiencing increases in its home-delivery service, also offers a range of services that guarantee delivery at a specified time of day as well as during evening hours or within a certain number of days.

NVC Logistics operates nationwide as a freight management company under the name NVC Direct. It partners with more than 300 delivery services companies. It also offers delivery services with its own truck fleets in the New York City area, with plans to expand this service to other major cities.

Other carriers are also expanding services. DHL is extending its DHL@home service-which delivers packages from shippers to the U.S. Postal Service for the last leg of local delivery- to provide similar connections with foreign postal companies. DHL@home delivers to about 22,600 local post offices for delivery times of two to four days, says David Marinkovich, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Newgistics Inc., which specializes in providing a returns service in conjunction with the Postal Service, is launching a service this year that also handles local delivery to homes. In the returns service, consumers can return an item through the Postal Service; Newgistics then picks up the items from a Postal Service bulk mail facility for delivery back to the merchant or manufacturer.

Getting it out the door on time
At outdoor sports and apparel retailer Moosejaw Mountaineering Inc., an integrated system that coordinates online ordering, inventory and shipping management is key to quickly shipping orders and keeping customers happy, says CEO Robert Wolfe. “We don’t want to be the biggest in what we sell, we just want to be the best in how we serve customers,” he says.

At Moosejaw, which this month is moving into a new warehouse with available space of up to 83,000 square feet, a web-enabled order management, inventory and shipping management system provides for the most efficient use of space while making it possible for the retailer to ship out on the same day orders received by 2 p.m.

Moosejaw has integrated its in-house developed order management and inventory management system with the WorldShip shipping management system from UPS. As orders come into or its contact center, the in-house order management system produces a packing slip that prints out in the fulfillment center, where workers scan the slip into the UPS WorldShip system, then create a shipping label.

To handle its increasing volume-July orders were up 80% over July 2006, Wolfe says-Moosejaw is expanding its number of WorldShip terminals to 12 from four. It will have 10 dedicated for domestic shipments and two for international. “Right now 10 packing stations feed one WorldShip terminal, so the extra WorldShip terminals will help us get more packages out the same day orders arrive,” Wolfe says.

The extra terminals will come in especially handy during the rush of the holiday shopping season, when in the past Moosejaw has had to impose an earlier order deadline for same-day shipping. “In the holiday season we usually move our order deadline from 2 p.m. to 1 p.m., noon or even 11 a.m., but our goal is to not push the clock back in peak periods,” Wolfe says.

Click Here for the Internet Retailer Guide to Providers of Delivery Services

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