In an effort to outduel the U.S. Post Office and FedEx for the steadily-growing number of Internet sales shipments, United Parcel Service will introduce free “fenced” Internet service next year that will permit companies without Web access to utilize its online services.
The shipping giant, which receives more than a million package tracking requests every day on UPS.com., is aiming to have all of its 1.7 million customers use the site to track packages and arrange deliveries.
With the new UPS OnLine World Link software, customers will be able to access the flagship UPS.com site as well as ec.ups.com, an e-commerce business services site, and UPS Document Exchange, the digital document shipping service.
“UPS OnLine World Link is a cost-free way for companies to take advantage of the speed and ease of online shipping and secure digital document delivery without the productivity concerns associated with full Internet access,” the company says. In addition, companies that already have Internet access can still use UPS OnLine World Link for a direct connection to UPS Web sites from anywhere in the world.
The “fence” around the new service was built by Microsoft and AT&T to allow customers to log onto the UPS site but not travel beyond it to other Web sites. UPS OnLine World Link is driven by Microsoft’s new Internet Explorer version 5 Web browser, and AT&T Business Services supplies the Internet connection service.
UPS plans to distribute beta test copies of the software this week at the Fall Internet World conference in New York. The company will also mail additional copies directly to current customers that have indicated an interest in trying the service, UPS said.
A final version of the program is slated for release in the first quarter of 2000, and the company also plans to roll the service out to other countries.
Boosting Digital Documents
UPS’ new digital document delivery service is expected to be the biggest beneficiary of the company’s outreach effort. The service offers secure, trackable electronic delivery of anything that can be contained in a digital file, including documents, images and software. The service also supplies proof of delivery.