FedEx Opens Doors For Small Businesses



Bob Naughtrip has been thinking about opening an online storefront for his soccer-apparel and -equipment business for five years. But it took a new small-business program from FedEx Corp. to, well, get the ball rolling.

The FedEx eCommerce Builder program offers companies with sales in the $100,000-to-$20 million range the tools to put up a bare-bones E-commerce storefront on FedEx.com's Main Street at no cost. They're not even asking for a solid commitment to use FedEx as the delivery service, though clearly that's the point.

"This product is not solely about building a Web page for small businesses," says David Roussain, FedEx VP of E-commerce. "It's about using a trusted provider to enter the Internet economy and open a new selling channel to grow their businesses."

The menu of moderately priced services includes Web design and hosting, order management, real-time financial settlement, and shipping and fulfillment. Already, 35 merchants have signed up for the service, which uses a co-branded software package from Orbit Commerce Inc. For now, only overnight delivery is available for goods bought on Main Street, but the company will add less-expensive ground service in the fall.

"FedEx pretty much held our hand through designing our site," says Naughtrip, owner of two SoccerPlus stores in suburban Chicago and a new one on FedEx Main Street. "We've been considering this for a long time, but we didn't know quite how to go about attacking it, and we didn't have the money to get creative. Hopefully people will find us and we'll get some incremental business."

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