*J. Jill Group Signs 3-Year Deal With Airborne@Home

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J. Jill Group Inc., Tilton, NH, said yesterday that it has signed a three-year, multimillion-dollar agreement with Airborne Express, Seattle, to use its airborne@home delivery service.

The specialty direct marketer of high-quality women's apparel will expand its use of airborne@home to more than 1 million shipments annually. The J. Jill Group markets its products through specialty retail stores, catalogs and its Web site.

It joins a growing number of e-tailers and catalog companies that have selected airborne@home to deliver residential ground shipments. Other customers of the airborne@home product include L.L.Bean, National Fulfillment, Wal-Mart, Brooks Brothers and J.Crew.

"We started using the airborne@home service in October of last year to test its reliability, tracking capabilities and delivery times to our customers," said Keith Abbott, director of logistics at the J. Jill Group Inc. "We discovered that Airborne exceeded our expectations by providing a much later departure time at our facility and an average delivery time of about three days to our customers."

Airborne@home is a business-to-consumer residential deferred-delivery service that stems from a partnership between Airborne Express and the U.S. Postal Service. It allows Airborne to transport shipments using its sort hub network to one of more than 24,000 local destination delivery units operated by the USPS within three to four days. Local postal carriers then deliver the packages to their residential destinations the next day. They can be tracked from the factory loading dock to the DDU through Airborne's tracking system and ultimately to the customer through the USPS delivery confirmation service.

"We created airborne@home to meet the growing demand of business-to-consumer shippers like J. Jill," said Carl Donaway, president/chief operating officer at Airborne Express. "As e-commerce and other factors continue affecting market trends, businesses need to get their products to consumers in a reliable, economical way."

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