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ONLINE BUSINESS

A Travelocity for Sending Packages

A new website lets you compare shipping rates from multiple carriers. Guess which big-brown-truck-deploying shipping company is not amused?
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Inspired by popular travel search engines, a new website called RedRoller promises relief to small companies reeling from high shipping costs. The site, which debuted in June, lets users compare shipping rates, print labels, and schedule deliveries with FedEx (NYSE:FDX), DHL, the U.S. Postal Service, and two regional carriers. Adopting a multicarrier approach can save certain kinds of mail-heavy businesses as much as 50 percent, says RedRoller founder Bill Van Wyck. He describes his ideal customer as a Web retailer that spends $1,000 a month on shipping.

Notably absent from RedRoller's menu is UPS (NYSE:UPS). A spokesperson for UPS, the world's largest shipping company, says that it is uncomfortable with the idea of "a third party representing our brand based solely on cost." For small companies, of course, cost is key, and carriers' pricing schemes (larded with fuel charges of up to 18 percent lately) can be maddening. For example, DHL offers the best rate for a guaranteed two-day shipment from Chicago to Memphis ($3.99), but FedEx costs less if you're shipping from Chicago to Fargo, North Dakota ($4.19). And for overnight delivery to either city? The Postal Service is the cheapest ($14.40).

Last updated: Oct 1, 2006




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