E-Commerce Connections Enhance CON-WAY Customers' Web Sites and Sales.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.--(AutomotiveWire)--Dec. 5, 2000
Con-Way Transportation Services (CON-WAY) is focusing its e-commerce development efforts on supporting the success of its customers' web site sales. It has established e-commerce links with more than 30 of its customers to provide real-time information on shipment costs and track orders. Company officials said they are using Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Java technology to provide the links.
"We'll be more successful if our customers are successful in selling their products, " says Jackie Barretta, vice president, information services for CON-WAY. "Once a purchaser has bought a product online, the last unanswered service questions are.... `How will you ship it to me? How long will it take to deliver?' and, `How much will the shipping charges be?' We can provide the answers to those questions and help our customers close the transaction," she said.
Transparent back-end links to web sites where products are purchased bring greater convenience to the ultimate buyer of the product. The XML transaction links provide customer-specific rating and shipment tracking and tracing.
"As a marketer I'd love to see our brand name presented along with the price and transit time, but the important thing is to present the purchaser with quick, accurate answers and bring the sale to a close," said Ned Moritz, vice president, marketing. "It's an excellent example of what we call `practical e-commerce.' It's related to the point-of-sale principle that ease of completion of a transaction brings value to all the partners in that transaction. It saves time. It increases accuracy. It reduces the paper and number of people needed to execute the transaction from purchase to payment."
One customer who has linked with CON-WAY is Sulfuric.com, Inc. Located in Nashville, TN., Sulfuric.com is a reseller of specialty metals and chemicals to the finishing industry. They set up an Internet site in late 1999. They asked Con-Way Southern Express, their primary less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier, if they could support their site to provide their customers with instant and accurate pricing on the delivery of products that had been placed in an on-line purchase basket on the Sulfuric.com site.
"Our goal was to develop a web site that would increase sales and build customer loyalty," said Jeff Peterson, president of Sulfuric.com, Inc. "Repeat sales can be achieved when you have an excellent product line and can complete delivery fulfillment. We felt ease of use, access to all the products our customers need, and the ability to make delivery arrangements were all needed to build a loyal and growing e-commerce customer base."
As the Sulfuric.com customers place products in their purchase basket they are simultaneously providing information related to the completion of the truck bill of lading. Sulfiric.com is able to translate product units into the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) and the weight of the shipment. Sulfuric.com is the shipper, so the origin is known. When the purchaser's address is entered the destination is known. This combination of information allows the shipment to be properly rated.
As soon as the purchaser indicates they have finished their purchase of products the Sulfuric.com web site asks if they'd like to have delivery charges included. If the customer clicks "yes", the XML link between Sulfuric.com and CON-WAY goes to work. In an instant the transportation charges appear at the bottom of the list of product charges and the customer has a complete, delivered cost for the goods. The CON-WAY transit time is also provided so the customer knows the expected delivery date.
Sulfuric.com was an early entrant in the B-2-B market place for the sale of commercial products through the Internet. They felt positive about entering this new sales channel, but the results have been even more positive than they expected. "Being on the front edge of technology application is exciting, but risky," said Peterson. "In this case, however, we think our strategy of excellent product mix along with the availability of complete order fulfillment was solid."
CON-WAY says its experience with Sulfuric.com and other customers now allows it to quickly build XML connections for all other transportation business transactions. The use of leading edge Java-based architecture makes it possible for one set of software components to be built and then re-used for web, EDI, and XML transactions with customers.
"We can make these same type of links to our customers' Intranet sites," said Barretta. "We've already begun to receive enquiries as customers develop internal web sites to manage their enterprise transportation programs. Our work with the XML technologies has us ready to support them as they use this e-commerce to handle transactions within their organization."
In July of 2000, a survey conducted by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter showed transportation customers voted CON-WAY's web site tops among LTL carriers. CON-WAY believes that customers' preference of www.con-way.com is largely due to the adherence to their rule of "practical e-commerce". System development is driven by customer feedback through a number of channels. The web site enables easy contact via e-mail. A survey is run through the site each year that solicits customer input on revisions. Customer beta-test groups are used each time a major function is being prepared for rollout. The solid architecture behind the site enables quick changes that reinforce CON-WAY's focus on assuring ease of navigation.
Con-Way Transportation Services is a $2.1 billion transportation and services company that provides time-definite and [pilcrow (paragraph sign)] day-definite freight delivery, logistics and e-commerce consulting services for commercial and industrial businesses. Within the CON-WAY family are regional less-than-truckload carriers Con-Way Central Express, Con-Way Canada Express, Con-Way Southern Express, Con-Way Western Express; Con-Way NOW, an expedited carrier specializing in emergency shipment service; Con-Way Integrated Services, a contract supply chain execution service provider; and Con-Way Business Solutions, a consulting service providing supply chain management and Internet solutions.
CON-WAY is a subsidiary of Palo Alto, California-based CNF (NYSE: CNF) a $6 billion management company of global supply chain services with businesses in regional trucking, air freight, ocean freight, customs brokerage, global logistics management and trailer manufacturing.
Further information about CON-WAY and additional press releases are available via the Internet at...www.con-way.com