UPS, TanData Sign Marketing Pact

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United Parcel Service, Atlanta, and logistics software developer TanData, Tulsa, OK, are jointly marketing a transportation technology that will help shippers more easily select the best way to send packages -- even if it's not by UPS.

TanData's Transportation API will allow catalogers or direct mailers to integrate their accounting, warehouse management or electronic commerce systems with the transportation management systems of national and international carriers, such as Federal Express or the U.S. Postal Service, as well as large trucking companies and regional carriers. The system will let businesses collect and share information about shipments from several sources without the need for separate proprietary systems so companies can choose which carrier to handle a mailing based on price, speed or security.

"The interesting feature about this technology is that it allows a customer to tailor a solution that fits their business needs," said UPS spokeswoman Joan Schnorbus. "A customer might use DHL for a particular purpose, but with cost and timing issues it might make sense to use another shipper for another purpose."

Schnorbus said the UPS isn't concerned that the agreement will give its customers a chance to compare prices with its competitors.

"We recognize that many of our customers have always dealt with more than one shipper and we are not concerned about comparing rates and services because we feel we are offering more services, delivery services and tracking options," she said.

DMers are eager to see the system, which is expected to be in place by Jan. 1.

"I would be interested in looking at this software" said Lloyd Karls, parcel delivery services manager at Fingerhut Companies Inc., Minnetonka, MN. "We are always open to new systems that may improve processes." Fingerhut primarily uses the USPS for its parcel delivery needs as well as FedEx and UPS.

Transportation API will be licensed to software developers, who will incorporate it into new or existing applications. Currently, it's available in several of UPS' e-commerce alliances and relationships it has with companies such as AT&T, Lotus, IBM, iCat and Open Market.

While terms of the agreement were not disclosed, it will give UPS an equity investment in TanData. UPS said the investment will encourage e-commerce since it will show how easily customers can streamline the e-commerce shipping process. The system will allow vendors having electronic catalogs to link directly to fulfillment systems and deliver products with multiple carriers. J. Crew, for example, could use the software to search for the best way to send a sweater to a customer in a specific part of the country.

"TanData has developed a cutting-edge systems that has the versatility and flexibility to become a standard for transportation system integration," said Dale Hayes, UPS' vice president of electronic commerce marketing.

In other news, TanData's Progistics software, which is installed at 2,500 companies around the world and tracks massive shipping orders, received UPS Online Compatible certification, which means the system is electronically connected to UPS.

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