ShipXact Introduces New Package-Tracking Technology

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ShipXact.com, an e-commerce fulfillment company, introduced a technology last week that aims to help online retailers better deliver merchandise purchased online. The company launched the new technology in hopes of alleviating some of the online fulfillment failures experienced by many Web merchants during last year's holiday season.


The new technology, TrackXact, processes orders and inventory and tracks them through the shipping process by sending data to a transmitter at a distribution center. ShipXact representatives said the information is delivered in real time to ShipXact Data Center servers, which then send the inventory status to its Web site for customers and clients to follow.


The TrackXact system will enhance ShipXact's e-mail notification service. Previously, ShipXact's customer service representatives would send e-mails to customers when they learned that a shipment was being sent, which would take from a few hours to a day. With the TrackXact technology, the company makes instant e-mail notification upon receipt, enabling the customer to track the entire procedure.


"We can quickly take the order and quickly turn it around and get it out," said Don Poteat, vice president of information systems at ShipXact, Atlanta. "But also in return, we're giving back quick information and are able to track and report where your shipment is, track and report inventory levels, and track and report sales."


TrackXact will be integrated into ShipXact's fulfillment services, which already manage credit card processing, reports and documents, among other functions.


The integration of the new technology will eliminate key steps and paperwork for some of the services. The company, for instance, will generate fewer month-end order reports because of the technology, Poteat said. Because customers and clients are able to track their orders through the Internet and are notified via e-mail, paper reports are becoming obsolete.


Poteat said having fewer paper reports benefits both ShipXact and its customers. "It's there for [the customers]. They're able to query and pull it up [at] their discretion, whether it's 2 in the morning or 2 in the afternoon," he said. "We see that as an added benefit to the customer, and we see that as also reducing our operational expense by not having to produce that report."


ShipXact released the new technology in anticipation of a busy holiday season and to help Internet merchants avert some of the e-commerce fulfillment ills experienced last year. Heading into the 1999 holiday season, 33 percent of executives said their company Web sites' fulfillment operations were not equipped for a heavy increase in volume, according to Jupiter Communications, New York, an online research firm. Additionally, 26 percent of those executives said their call centers could not withstand heavy demand, either.


Consequently, according to a Jupiter survey conducted after the 1999 holiday season, 26 percent of respondents said their Web sites' fulfillment operations failed or slowed down during the holiday season. Further, 20 percent of respondents said their call centers failed as well.


ShipXact hopes to offset those complications this holiday season with TrackXact complementing its existing services, Poteat said. ShipXact aims to support online merchants, for example, by providing an on-site IT staff that will handle customer e-commerce problems, he said.


Poteat believes, though, that customers and clients will benefit most from the access and tracking capabilities provided by the TrackXact system.


"It's an advantage anytime you can put information back to the customer at their fingertips," he said. "They're in control. [The information] is where they can access it, when they want it."
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