FedEx to Help Businesses Build Online Stores

BOSTON (06/12/2000) - Hoping to attract new customers, Federal Express Corp. today announced that it will launch a service to help small and medium-size businesses build online stores.

Scheduled to launch later this summer, the service will include Web design and hosting, catalog development, back-office management, real-time payment processes, customer service and integrated FedEx shipping and tracking. It will be offered through an alliance with Orbit Commerce Inc., an e-business services provider in Chicago.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. Pricing hasn't been determined, but according to FedEx spokeswoman Sally Davenport, "will be competitive with other solutions (companies) may be looking at."

The announcement by the Memphis-based shipping giant comes as it and rival United Parcel Service of America Inc. in Atlanta continue to move beyond being just transportation companies.

"We're seeing this from other third-party logistics service providers who are getting into the (e-commerce) market," said John Fontanella, an analyst at AMR Research Inc. in Boston. "FedEx is trying to keep the franchise alive and growing in all of e-commerce."

As for UPS, in February it announced a new subsidiary, e-Ventures, that is researching and developing new businesses that will handle the entire back-end fulfillment operations of small and mid-size dot-com companies.

And UPS spokesman Steve Holmes said his company offers a service similar to the one announced today by FedEx, but does so a bit differently.

"Our strategy is to partner with companies like AT&T, IBM and iCAT, which offer businesses (online store) solutions that build-in UPS functionality in what they offer," Holmes said.

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