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Best in Class - UPS or FedEx?

How do you evaluate your carriers, specifically UPS and FedEx?  Generally, clients will take into consideration rates and service levels when determining the best in class for their shipping characteristics and supply chain.  However, given that FedEx and UPS both offer similar supply chain solutions and maintain higher than 98% on time performance, the decision should take into consideration another important factor.

Ship Watchers employees consultants with over 20 years experience in the industry including previous positions with the carriers such as account executives and IT marketing analysts.  Everyone can agree that the carrier representative can make or break the difference in obtaining cost effective yet high service levels.

What to look for out of your carrier representative...  Everyone can appreciate that they are tasked with increasing margins and profits on your account, but that doesn't mean they can't position your business effectively within their organization.  The perfect carrier representative should work to help your business versus remaining silent and not providing insight into areas they can further assist. 

They should listen to any and all pricing and service requests you make in order to provide valuable feedback on ways you can further reduce your transportation spend.  They should offer insight into key characteristics they view favorably like international services, density, growth, volume, and shipment weight so you can deem how to increase your incentives with the carrier.

A solid representative will share all your shipping characteristics and transportation spend and develop contracts that keep up with the agreed upon terms and conditions for the life of your agreement.  They should also make sure you are realizing the discounts they worked with you to achieve within your contract.  If this is not the case, rewriting the contract should be done in order to maximize your incentives such as earned discounts, portfolio tiers, rebates, and other terms that affect net pricing.

Getting senior management involved so they are familiar with your account as well as offering new services and making sure all their value added tools are being implemented are key to a good representative.  You will also realize you are in good hands when problems are resolved quickly as this means they know how to escalate issues for a fast resolution if course hopefully in your favor.

Having a good representative means a complete understanding of your business and priorities as well as offering solutions to help you accomplish your priorities.  Quarterly business reviews should be conducted to evaluate core metrics for both the carrier and your organization.

While there are certainly additional areas that a representative can assist you with, you should at least be seeing some or all of these items from your carrier representative.  If you are not, it would be wise to seek an alternative representative or even consider an alternative carrier.  Some large volume shippers have even seen a benefit in utilizing both carriers depending on their shipping characteristics.

Any questions related to this article or further information on Ship Watchers can be obtained by visiting or through our 24/7 Support site including Chat at
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  1. Ethan B.

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