Is A Top Secret Amazon App About To Disrupt The Shipping World?

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If a top-secret Amazon program comes to market, then package delivery might be the next industry to face a serious disruption.

FedEx recently posted a less-than-stellar quarterly earnings report, and now the shipping company faces a threat from their own customers. Online retail superstore Amazon is developing a new crowd-sourced delivery scheme, in which retail stores or private individuals would deliver packages on the eCommerce company’s behalf.

Internally, Amazon reportedly refers to the experimental mobile app with the code name “On My Way,” although it’s release date is unknown. The “consumer-powered” delivery service would pay retailers with physical storefronts to hold packages for customers, while also paying everyday people a fee per parcel they deliver. Currently, Amazon ships an estimated 3.5 million packages every day.

The same week Amazon’s new program was reported, FedEx Executive Vice President Mike Glenn made a statement outlining the entry challenges companies would face trying to compete in the shipping industry, like controlling transportation costs and building consumer trust. And experts say the timing of his statement was not a coincidence.

“Research has indicated time and time again that a uniformed person with proper identification showing up at your doorstep is an important issue for customers,” Glenn said in a conference call. “Consistency of customer experience is very critical in that regard.”

Although FedEx is one of the big three in the delivery industry, the company has showed signs of trouble in recent years. In 2013, FedEx revenues grew just 3.7% to $44.2 billion following revenue growth of 8.6% in 2012. The company’s latest quarterly earning report shows a loss of $895 million on total revenues of $12.1 billion.

Amazon has already experimented with paying stores like 7-Eleven to rent locker space for package pickup in their stores. And although the eCommerce giant is being tight-lipped about its new mobile app, experts say Amazon is looking towards the success of Uber and similar crowd-sourcing startups.

Nearly 200 Missing ACT Tests Found at Grocery Store

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Nearly 200 missing ACT tests from Iowa were found earlier this month — at a grocery store.

On February 2, the ACT organization emailed 195 students of Johnston High School in Iowa, telling them that they would not be getting their ACT score reports, which they’d been promised would be available no later than February 6.

ACT spokeswoman Katie Wacker told the Associated Press that one of the organization’s testing coordinators had been told to use FedEx to ship the test packets, but instead choose to send them through U.S. mail.

“When that happens, if they have simply gone astray, they often eventually show up and we are able to score those tests and provide those scores to the student,” Wacker told the Associated Press. “But if they do not show up, we are unable to provide any scores and therefore our only real course of action is to apologize and ask that the students retest, at a considerable amount of inconvenience to them and their families.”

In order to remedy the situation, the ACT organization offered students refunds and the chance to re-test for free, but the date they set was after the deadlines to be considered for scholarships at some universities.

Apparently, the ACT-employed testing coordinator put the answer sheets into a FedEx mailer provided by the ACT organization. Instead of bringing them to FedEx, though, the coordinator dropped them off into a USPS blue collection box outside of Dahl’s grocery store.

When USPS found the FedEx mailer, they returned it to Dahl’s grocery store, presuming that was who had sent it. The answer sheets sat there until the ACT organization realized that they weren’t coming.

The Johnston Post Office figured out what had happened, and retrieved the package. The answer sheets were mailed overnight — via FedEx — and the ACT organization has said that it will not only honor the answer sheets, but also expedite their grading. The organization will also refund the students’ testing fees, which can range from $38 for a standard test to $54.50 if students take a written portion.

“Anytime you take a package or a letter to a carrier you hope it reaches its destination, but there’s always a possibility that something could be damaged or misplaced,” said Wacker. “We’re very pleased that [the answer sheets] were found and we’re still very apologetic for what this means to the kids and what they’ve gone through in thinking yesterday that they were facing a re-test.”