By Chloe Aiello
Shipping is expensive ー especially for smaller businesses that may not have the staff or capital to execute the break-neck shipping speeds consumers have come to expect from Amazon and Walmart.
UPS wants to help those small businesses compete with its new eFulfillment service launched Thursday.
"In this whole e-commerce world, everybody wants things right away ー you gotta have it in two days," Kevin Warren, UPS chief marketing officer, told Cheddar. "EFulfillment has two warehouses owned by UPS that now these [small and medium businesses] can leverage these warehouses so they can get closer to their customers and meet their delivery times."
UPS is also rushing to solve the "last mile" problem ー they've looked at autonomous drone and vehicles test cases, Warren said. Earlier this week, UPS rival FedEx unveiled its SameDay Bot prototype, an autonomous robot that the company hopes will make it cheaper, more convenient, and more sustainable for companies to deliver small packages.
"Most companies are looking at some sort of way from a technology standpoint to drive efficiency and help their customers ー and UPS is not an exception to that," Warren said.
If and when they do introduce new last mile options, he said it won't be at the expense of their drivers.
"Our drivers are our employees, and a big part of our brand, and our trust and our safety," Warren said. "Our technology will be kind of an augmentation, leveraging our competitive advantage there."
Meanwhile, the eFulfillment service will allow small businesses to leverage UPS-owned warehouses in Kentucky and California ー handling merchandise storage, packaging, and shipping. The services support sales across 21 different marketplaces, including Amazon ($AMZN), Walmart ($WMT), Etsy, and eBay ($EBAY), and allows for dynamic inventory updates ー even from warehouses that aren't UPS-owned.
"These small customers ... need something that is simple and easy, and they can't go to every single marketplace and register, and get the pricing, and manage inventory, etc.," Warren said. "In comes eFulfillment: one place, one price, one login and sign on, easy for them to manage their inventory."
Warren said the system aims to help companies grow their businesses and keep their logistics costs down by streamlining all processes with a single, transparent platform. UPS' clients aren't the only ones that stand to grow from the new service. As the company scales its new services, Warren said UPS will either add more capacity at the two current warehouses or build out to more locations.
For full interview click here.