Online purchases appear to be helping fuel a steady rise in the shipping industry.
While Federal Express led the charge with the most packages shipped "air express" daily - more than 3 million - the US Postal Service still ships the most packages overall. More than half of Web purchases are delivered by United Parcel Service, by some accounts.
More than 50 Web sites now sell or facilitate transportation and logistics services, according to the Air Cargo Management Group, an aviation consulting firm in Seattle. With the rise in Internet-generated parcels, domestic express companies are ramping up their shipping services to satisfy customer demand and appeal to Internet companies. And partnerships are now being struck between e-tailers and shippers. One example: Airborne Express and Outpost.com (see this week's lead story).
Competition among these new teams is likely to yield improvements in customer service.
"Shippers are disregarding the mode of transportation and are demanding highly reliable, time-definite service," notes Bob Dahl, a project director at the Air Cargo Management Group. "These demands are causing transportation providers to respond by formulating more creative ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors."
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