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Now You Can "point, click & ship" on the WWW

Federal Express Co this week will begin testing Web-based shipping capabilities for its overnight delivery service. Federal Express Co. is saving as much as $4 million a year using the World Wide Web

The company currently allows customers to track packages from its Web site; the new interNetShip feature will add the ability to fill out and print an electronic airbill and request a pickup, as it does with it's FedEx Ship software. Currently to use the FedEx ship software you must have your modem dial n 800 number and connect directly with FedEx.

Later this summer, FedEx will add a drop-box locator to the Web site, enabling users to locate the closest of 48,000 FedEx boxes in the United States, said officials. FedEx is also working to more tightly integrate its Web services with Internet software vendors as well as major consumer and corporate accounts, said Robert Hamilton, the company's manager of electronic commerce marketing. For example, FedEx is working with Internet consortium CommerceNet to help develop standard fulfillment solutions for electronic commerce, Hamilton said.

While the number of Web users and the money saved pale in comparison to the more than 300,000 ordinary calls FedEx receives daily and its $10 billion in annual revenue, the Web service is the company's fastest-growing method of support, said Hamilton. FedEx's savings are based on the more than 400,000 users who track packages through the Web site each month, rather than calling FedEx's customer service representatives, Hamilton said. With each call costing between $2 and $5, FedEx saves about $200,000 per month.

"The Internet holds great promise for not only cutting costs and freeing customer service representatives for other tasks, but opening new doors for the company," he said. " The support cost savings does not take into consideration the savings we derive in telecommunication costs or from not having to send out floppy disks with desktop software on them."

Two of FedEx's biggest competitors, United Parcel Service of America Inc. and DHL Corp., provide package tracking from their Web sites. In addition, UPS will unveil this month new desktop software, UPS Online, that includes limited Internet integration. The interNetShip capabilities FedEx is launching this week are actually an extension of earlier work FedEx did in its PowerShip 3.0 client/server software. With interNetShip, after a user registers with FedEx, receives a user ID, and completes the fields of the Web-based airbill, FedEx will return to the user an electronic bar code and completed airbill that he or she can print out locally.


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