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To woo more customers... : FedEx showcases new tools

Raja Simhan T. E.


Mr Jacques Creeten, Managing Director, Indian Subcontinent, FedEx Express Corporation.

WANT to courier something? FedEx it. Having created an acronym for couriering packages, the global express transportation firm is now showcasing the advantages of its technology tools to woo more customers, especially the large number of small- and medium-size firms in India. These firms need not invest in costly logistics software products and solutions, but use the FedEx software tools available free to customers, said Mr Jacques Creeten, Managing Director, Indian Subcontinent, FedEx Express Corporation.

Customers need not worry about Customs or local tax regulations in different countries. The FedEx software tools will provide all such information, he told Business Line recently. The software provides a one-stop-shop for all shipping needs for a customer, he said.

The company's Web site, www.fedex.com, provides customers with real time information about their shipments. It also enables customers to access the self-service centre giving them control of the shipping process, including opening an account, getting rates, ordering supplies/couriers and tracking shipments.

The company's latest technology software tool is the FedEx eBusiness Solutions — FedEx eShipping Tools and FedEx supply chain solutions. These enable customers to shorten response time, reduce inventory cost and generate better return on investment, said Mr Creeten. In other words, eShipping tools enable customer to automate the entire shipping process making shipping easier and helping customers save significant time, he said.

For customers who prefer to work online, FedEx Shipment at the company's site is a Web-based application that allows customers to manage shipping process online. For offline customers, the tool can be downloaded into a personal computer. Unlimited number of users can use the software. While there is only one database for all users, the central administration is connected to FedEx, he said.

According to Mr Creeten, the Global Trade Manager (GTM) can streamline a customer's shipping process online. It determines which customs documents should accompany customers' international shipments and lets customers print and fill them. This saves time and reduces potential border delays. It also provides shipping information such as transit time, estimated duties and taxes based on commodity type shipped and country served. All these can be accessed online. A customer can also avoid the hassles of intermediaries, he said.

The GTM has about 1,000 import/export forms covering 40 countries and 9,500 commodity descriptions to assist customers identify documents required to accompany the shipments, he said. GTM also prepares international documents online, and advise FedEx customers on documentation requirements for customs clearance.

The same goes for shipping unique commodities, and with GTM shipments will clear customs without delay. A mango farmer in Andhra Pradesh just needs to give the fruits to FedEx. The company will ship them to the final destination. It is a similar case with other small time entrepreneurs, who need not waste money and time in logistics-related issues, he said.

The GTM is also linked to FedEx Ship Manager enabling customers to prepare airway bills and shipping labels from their own premise. Once done, all that a customer needs to do is call your local FedEx hotline number to request pickup, he said. As a wholly owned subsidiary of the US-based $23-billion FedEx Corp, FedEx in India operates six flights a week from Mumbai to Europe and the US through the trans-Atlantic route carrying 36-40 tonnes of freight daily. For the Asia-Pacific region, the company uses commercial airlines to ship consignments.

Sector-wise, the carrier handles goods such as information technology hardware, electronics, automotive components, engineering goods, chemicals, textiles, including apparels and carpets, pharmaceutical products and jewellery. "We have grown by 500 per cent since launching our Indian operations in 1997," said Mr Creeten without disclosing India-specific financial details.

FedEx will equip its couriers with handheld devices. To begin with, this device is being introduced in Mumbai, and will be extended to all metros. The devices will enable courier staff to advise customers on country-specific documentation requirements, and provide information on service availability by country, postal code or city, he said.

According to Mr Creeten, FedEx has spent over $1 billion on developing IT. FedEx has over 5,000 people working in its IT department, and has a partnership with the Indian software firm, Mphasis, where about 300 professionals are working on IT projects for it, he said.

Net hit!

Over 2.5 million customers visit fedex.com, and the Web site is used in 120 countries. Customers connected to FedEx through the Internet generate about 70 per cent of the company's average daily volume of 3.1 million packages. About 12 million packages a month are shipped through FedEx's Ship Manager at fedex.com. Annually, FedEx invoices over $3 billion worldwide through electronic data interchange (EDI) with over 900,000 pure EDI transactions completed per day. The company estimates its investment in the Internet has avoided annual customer service costs of several million (US) dollars, says a FedEx release.

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