Software Update: UPS 111.0 Is Ready to Install

On Founders' Day, let's look at how the world's largest package delivery company is blending core values with modern innovations.

The founders and early leaders of UPS built and promoted a foundation that would adapt and transform based on the needs and wants of our customers.

Former UPS CEO George D. Smith (1962-1972) put it this way: We live in a world of change. Each day our environment changes, conditions change, our nation changes, the business world changes, the needs of our customers change. As we learn more about our jobs, our ideas change, our goals and objectives change. So we, as an organization, are constantly changing, living and growing. We can constantly look forward to change. Not change for change’s sake, but for the opportunity to improve.

It’s a message that rings true today as UPS celebrates Founders’ Day, marking 111 years in operation. Since launching as a message delivery business more than a century ago, UPS has transformed multiple times, much like a software update designed to woo and delight customers.

Taking a page out of our founders’ playbook, our latest update centers around buyer satisfaction, seller collaboration and internal orchestration – but with a modern twist.

Buyer Satisfaction

When a driver does not have the complete uniform or wears an odd sweater or overcoat – when their uniform is soiled or their shirt has been worn for a week without washing – what kind of impression does that person create when making pickups or deliveries? – UPS founder Jim Casey

Jim Casey understood that every interaction between a UPSer and a customer had a direct impression on the company’s brand. If service was not best in class, then the business was at risk.

Now consider our current demand-centered market and the opportunities for UPS in the digital space to satisfy customers.

UPS can meet customer demand before they even choose what they want delivered. We can now focus on providing buyers with frictionless purchasing, visually pleasing design and reliable information to make decisions – while creating new growth opportunities for our shippers.

For example, with the introduction of the UPS My Choice Deals website, a small business owner can find products and exclusive deals offered by trusted UPS partners. With easy navigation and shipment visibility, this further enhances the UPS My Choice experience.

And UPS effectively transforms buyers to users rather than static stakeholders.

In his book, Users, Not Customers, entrepreneur Aaron Shapiro reminds us: Forward thinking companies think about e-commerce across the full digital ecosystem, not just a website … if someone finds it hard to complete a purchase … there’s a big risk that purchase won’t be made.

As we satisfy more customers, we’ll increase our value for shippers during all phases of the purchasing process – think of it like obsessing over the creases and polish (like Jim Casey) but in the digital sense.

Seller Collaboration

UPS has always brokered essential relationships for our customers so they can achieve their business objectives. Whether working with local municipalities to provide customers common carrier value, coordinating with suppliers to create kitting services or negotiating with international governments to facilitate global trade, UPS collaborates to meet our customers where they are and take them to new heights.

In today’s interconnected global economy, UPS has opportunities to connect with and on behalf of our customers with unprecedented ease. Though in-person interaction is still important, UPS can broker new relationships and connections using digital channels.

In the new world of digital commerce, our customers demand and expect seamless, delightful collaboration so that such connections will empower them to do more.

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In the new world of digital commerce, our customers demand and expect seamless, delightful collaboration.

For example, UPS recently announced its UPS Marketplace Shipping collaboration with Shopify. This connection helps both UPS customers and future customers access logistical value to create and manage their online business. Now, if a manufacturer wants to launch a website to sell products to other businesses, the Marketplace Shipping partnership can provide them access to a world of new customers.

Going forward, UPS will spur increased collaboration for sellers as the company further embraces the platform business model so developers, startups and third parties can both provide and leverage connections to UPS.

As the book Platform Revolution points out: The platform business must shift its focus from internal activities to external activities … innovation is no longer the province of in-house experts and research and development labs but is produced through crowdsourcing and the contribution of ideas by independent participants in the platform.

Just as when UPS obtained common carrier status decades ago, we’ll all need to think differently and reconsider past frameworks to adopt a platform mindset.

Given the digital world before us, how many of our connections are candidates for activation and leverage? How can we make new connections? How much can we help our customers grow?

Internal Orchestration

UPS has never shied away from a challenge. Our Global Smart Logistics Network, powered by more than 450,000 UPSers, took decades to build – and it’s something we recalibrate for growth every single day.

While building out physical assets has served us well over the past several decades – and we’ll continue to do so – we now have the opportunity in the Fourth Industrial Revolution to plug into the digital world.

By adding sensors, automation, 3D printing services and more integrated digital visibility, UPS can once again reimagine the movement of goods to all corners of the globe.

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UPS can once again reimagine the movement of goods to all corners of the globe.

Consider our announcement last year about a Payoneer business-to-business secure payments solution, which gives customers the ability to utilize a secure digital platform to conduct B2B transactions protected by licensed escrow. This effort included everyone from IT developers to UPS pilots to pre-load operators and many others throughout our global network.

In a way, every UPSer is a platform strategist, striving to provide our customers the information and performance required to keep pace with the speed of international commerce.

As buyers and sellers connect across the globe, UPS can capitalize on the latest technologies and deliver new value through end-to-end orchestration of global supply chains.

Whether optimizing the physical internet, providing minable digital value or immediately delivering 3D-printed products, UPS is internally orchestrating commerce for this new world.

In many ways, we are just getting started. On this Founders’ Day, let’s all get ready to install UPS 111.0.

Sean O'Brien is on UPS’s E-Commerce Strategy team and teaches collegiate courses in marketing and buyer behavior.

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Holly Bingham is UPS Director of Enterprise Accounts, with a focus on retail and consumer goods. As a consultative sales professional and through technology and process innovation, she seeks and pushes for new ways to meet customer needs.

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