UPS to Assist Online Grocers

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Online grocery stores this week tapped the fulfillment services of Roadnet Technologies Inc. to guarantee same-day and next-day residential deliveries for customers.


Roadnet, a UPS Logistics Group company, is offering companies like Albertsons.com, GroceryWorks.com, HomeGrocer.com and Streamline.com an end-to-end solution that includes daily routing and scheduling of manned deliveries, strategic planning of unmanned deliveries as well as a mobile computing solution for wireless dispatch, delivery tracking and driver support.


According to Roadnet, the system helps online grocers maintain order accuracy, offer convenience by meeting customers' preferred delivery times and provide value through efficient, cost-saving routes that eliminate the need to charge a delivery fee.


Roadnet's system has applications for groceries, gifts, convenience items, furniture, appliances and other household items as well as for third-party logistics providers with e-tail fulfillment operations. Customers range from Internet start-ups to click-and-mortar companies with a mix of physical and online retail stores.


"In the online consumer marketplace, where customers can easily compare prices and select new suppliers, companies compete on their ability to execute and often within a very tight margin environment," said Len Kennedy, chief operating officer of Roadnet. "We're committed to helping [online and offline] companies achieve efficient fulfillment - all while offering the time savings and convenience that Internet buyers are seeking."


The same-day, next-day delivery model has been gaining steam in the Internet commerce area recently. For example, last month, Barnesandnoble.com, New York, began testing a service that has bike messengers and delivery vans delivering books purchased on the Web to the doorsteps of New Yorkers within 24 hours. It has contracted with a NY-based messenger service, which picks up orders from barnesandnoble.com's warehouse in Dayton, NJ, twice each day and then delivers them.


In addition, Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA, recently predicted that 5 percent of U.S. households will be buying groceries online a few years from now.


Roadnet said additional contracts are pending for several other Internet-based grocery companies that are planning to use the system for same-day deliveries as well as to improve delivery efficiency, enhance customer service and optimize vehicle fleet operations.
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