FedEx at Forty: Pushing Boundaries
FedEx innovators lead the way in bold advances.
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“The tale of two networks.”
At the dawn of e-commerce came eBay and Amazon.com, affording new avenues for Fed-Ex’s growth. “We tend to think of these sites as Internet phenoms,” says Carter. “I call them the tale of two networks. You have the physical networks that underlie e-commerce and digital transparency. Nobody would go on those sites and buy a product in the digital context if it didn’t bring about a [corresponding] action in the real world.” As the 1990s progressed, FedEx integrated its technology with the e-commerce revolution. “And as those orders came in online,” says Carter, “customers had visibility that gave them confidence that their product would be delivered or received.”
This “deep technology integration” has helped fuel the information explosion of the past decade. Carter quotes Google’s Eric Schmidt saying that “from the beginning of civilization to 2003, five exabytes [units of storage equal to one quintillion of bytes] of information were created and catalogued. Now we create that much every two days on the Internet.” As information increases and innovation continues to blaze new trails, says Carter, “the key is creating opportunities in the real world to make things happen we could never have done in the past.”
That opportunity recently led to the creation of a web-based tool that simplifies the shipping process for business owners who use eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Google Checkout, and other online stores. Once the customer logs in, fedex.com’s Integration Manager automatically gathers and consolidates orders, and gives the owner an easy way to organize, review, and process their shipments.
Another tool is FedEx Ship to Friends, an app that lets Facebook users share information with friends about packages. Once the shipment is complete, users can post that information to the friend’s timeline and can include a customized message. The app, which is available on desktop and mobile devices, lets users select the speed of service desired, from “Premium Choice” to “Best Deal.”