Consignment tracking :Courier Cos Leverage The Net

News Clip : Financial Express, Mumbai

May, 2003.

A global PC manufacturer wants to know the exact location of his shipment as he eagerly awaits delivery. He logs on to the courier company's website and the status flashes out to him.

Ever wondered how this is possible? Blue Dart is one of the few big courier companies which offers such a solution to its registered customers to track down the exact location of the shipment. Under the InternetDart service, the customer is given a user identity and password. After logging on, the customer can see the details of the shipments for the last 45 days.

"This service is only for those customers who have medium to high volumes," said Blue Dart senior manager -systems Milind Nande. There are other courier companies which are also using advanced tracking systems. FedEx's interactive network ranges from the small, hand-held FedEx SuperTracker scanners that the couriers carry on their routes, to the powerful mainframes and servers that help the company run its global operations.

Says Birender Ahluwalia, marketing manager, Middle East, Indian subcontinent and Sub Sahara Africa: "FedEx customers can track their packages by using e-mail tracking, Internet tracking, Short Messaging Systems (SMS) via their GSM phones tracking and tracking by calling the FedEx call centre."

Internet Tracking allows FedEx customers to query and obtain package status information via its web site for up to 25 shipments simultaneously. Detailed tracking results can be forwarded to up to three different email addresses. Just selecting `Tracking' on the FedEx homepage enables customers to track their packages at any time, from any place in the world.

Blue Dart's InternetDart service comes with two additional components. The first facility allows customers to download from the Internet information about the status and destination of the shipments which they can use for their own MIS reporting. The second facility is for DartApex and Surface and is used for time categorical and valuable shipments like medical equipment and PCs. The solution is called ImageDart which allows the customer to see the delivery challan copy on the screen and obtain a printout. "Majority of our users use InternetDart. The second most popular use is the TrackDart solutions," said Mr Nande.

The TrackDart system is for casual customers. By using the solution, customers can go to the website and give a waybill number. They will have to key in that number to see where the shipment is. Unlike InternetDart, customers under TrackDart system will have to put multiple waybills for tracking but have to key in each number. The effort is to convert casual into regular customers.

Blue Dart also offers a solution called ShopTrack for Internet sites like for their e-commerce activities. As Rediff does not maintain a warehouse, it is Blue Dart's job to handle the logistics and source goods from the suppliers to deliver it to the customers. A solution sits on the website of and information on the quantity requirement and the supplier is sent to Blue Dart over the Internet electronically. The courier company takes up the responsibility of delivering the consignment to the customer. In case the consumer wants to know where the shipment is, he can go to the Rediff site and give his order number; the actual shipment position of the product will then be available.

PackTrack solution can be used by any corporate to integrate tracking into their systems. This information on tracking can be viewed with the help of their ERP package and is used by those who want to restrict employee access to their website.

Blue Dart does not charge anything from its customers for providing any of these solutions but offers these services for retaining customers.

How all this is done? "We use Java servlets, JavaServer pages and Oracle 8i," said Mr Nande.

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