Who delivers faster—FedEx or UPS?
According to FedEx, it does—on some lanes, anyway. FedEx Corp. CFO Alan B. Graf, Jr. told a gathering of investors and analysts in late March that on a net basis, the company's ground-parcel unit, FedEx Ground, delivers packages faster than rival UPS Inc. over 23 percent of the U.S. traffic lanes that both companies serve.
Jess Bunn, a FedEx spokesman, confirmed Graf's comments. UPS spokesman Norman Black declined to comment.
Jerry Hempstead, a former Airborne Express and DHL Express sales executive who now runs his own parcel consultancy, says FedEx's claim is true. Hempstead says his research indicates that FedEx will often be "one or more days" faster than UPS in meeting their respective service commitments.
"I found this hard to believe when a customer of mine told me FedEx was faster on the ground," he says. "So I did a study of their shipments and, sure enough, FedEx was faster."
The "net" figure cited by Graf is calculated by taking the number of lanes where FedEx has faster delivery times and then subtracting the smaller number of lanes where UPS provides faster deliveries. A purely hypothetical example: If FedEx is faster on 100 lanes and UPS is faster on 60 lanes, then FedEx's net will be 40 lanes.
Hempstead says the two companies have different ways of moving goods to market, which will often affect transit times. As the nation's largest user of intermodal service, UPS relies heavily on trains to move long-haul shipments. By contrast, FedEx uses little intermodal and relies on two-man driver teams for deliveries, he says. Over-the-road truck service generally is faster than intermodal.
Hempstead says his research shows that FedEx is faster on some lanes and UPS is faster on others. In some lanes, they are equal, he adds.