So you think you’ve got a busy holiday season to look forward to? Try being one of the entities responsible for shipping all those packages, whether they include cell phones, accessories or the myriad other objects that get shipped.
UPS’ peak day will be Wednesday, Dec. 22, when it expects to ship 24 million packages, nearly 60 percent more over its usual daily delivery volume. The same day, it expects to field more than 44 million tracking requests.
At least some of those requests will be coming from mobile devices. The exact percentage is unknown, but with the additional support for Android devices this year, it’s sure to increase. The mobile website, m.ups.com, and the UPS Mobile Apps for Android, BlackBerry and iPhone enable users to track shipments, create shipments using the My UPS address book and calculate shipping rates and time in transit. Last week, UPS announced it was extending its mobile apps and mobile website to customers in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada.
Jordan Colletta, vice president of customer technology marketing at UPS, says it’s all about making services more convenient. “Literally, our customers need this capability. They’ve asked for it,” and they’re using it to look up shipment costs, find UPS store locations, track shipments and other activities.
UPS doesn’t currently have an app in the market specifically for the iPad. UPS came out first with its iPhone app in October of last year, then followed that up with a BlackBerry app in December 2009. Android was added this past April, and Colletta says the company is always looking at adding more capabilities balanced with investments.
Sometimes referred to as a technology company with trucks, UPS spends about $1 billion a year on technology, and it develops all its apps in-house, keeping in mind that a lot of customers want to move between the desktop and mobile without a lot of hassle.
Initially, UPS realized that mobile had to be an extension of the core things that consumers do with UPS, but it needed to make sure it was scaled down enough for the smaller phone interface. After getting customer feedback, UPS scaled back on the tracking detail that it provided via mobile – at UPS.com, you can see a lot more tracking detail, but that much information isn’t practical on mobile. UPS has had a mobile app for quite a number of years but enhanced it to be more efficient on today’s smartphones.
Anyone with a Web-capable phone can access the mobile site, but “we also like the idea, where it’s possible, to take advantage of device-specific features,” Colletta says. “Some users just really prefer an app and some are thrilled to death with a Web interface so we want to meet our customers’ needs.”
Interestingly, UPS does not incorporate ads from other companies into its apps. It’s viewed as a productivity tool first and foremost, and it wants to get customers through the screens and to what they need as quickly as possible, Colletta says.
Oh, and as for this being the busy time of year for retailers and pretty much everyone else involved in holiday parties, events and shopping, consider what UPS is looking at. The company projects its shipping volume for the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas to tally 430 million packages worldwide.
Uh oh. The doorbell just rang. Time to check out what UPS just delivered.