E-commerce keeps winning the growth race at FedEx

As reported by Digital Commerce 360
Wednesday March 22, 2017

FedEx Ground volume grows 2.2% while revenue per Ground package increases 6.1% in Q3

E-commerce deliveries more than doubled the daily average on multiple days during FedEx Corp.’s peak season between Black Friday and Christmas, the carrier said during its fiscal third quarter earnings report.

The quarter ended Feb. 28 included most of the 2016 peak holiday season, which was record-breaking in volume, “although we had a few large customers who had volumes below their peak forecast,” FedEx chief marketing officer Raj Subramaniam said Tuesday on the call with analysts. He did not name those customers.

Average daily package volume for FedEx Ground, which is where the bulk of e-commerce orders are handled, was 8.52 million in the quarter, up 2.2% from 8.34 million in fiscal Q3 2016. Revenue per package during Q3 was $8.12, up 6.1% from $7.65 a year ago.

“All of our year-round preparation paid off and our networks performed as designed to meet the surge in demand,” Subramaniam said. “Once again, volume during this season was impacted by the continued growth of e-commerce. The retail and e-tail industry and consumer shopping patterns continue to evolve.”

FedEx does not break out commercial and residential volume growth numbers, Subramaniam said, but “we did see higher growth rates in our residential delivery volume driven by e-commerce.”

FedEx did not project the number of packages it expected to handle during the 2016 holiday season but said in September that package volume was likely to increase about 10% year over year. FedEx delivered 350 million packages during the 2015 holiday season, which would put the 2016 volume at 385 million packages. FedEx is the shipping carrier for 313 retailers in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 1000.

While e-commerce is the fastest-growing segment of FedEx’s business, executives reiterated that it is the smallest component. “The vast majority of the volume that we carry at FedEx Corp. is business to business, and while e-commerce is the fastest-growing piece, it’s the smallest piece,” chief financial officer Alan Graf told analysts on the carrier’s fiscal third quarter earnings call, according to a SeekingAlpha transcript.

“We can’t afford the same capital intensity for peak e-commerce volume, which is why we have been backing away from some customers and raising our prices significantly. So that balancing act will continue for us going forward,” Graf said.

In fiscal Q2, FedEx said it had cut ties with some retail customers, though it did not say how many or which ones. On Jan. 2, FedEx rates for Ground and Freight services increased an average of 4.9%; Express rates rose an average of 3.9%. FedEx also changed the dimensional weight divisor for FedEx Express and FedEx Ground packages to 139 from 166, making the divisor the same as it currently is for international packages and increasing the fees retailers will pay on many packages.

Despite culling some customers, FedEx is going after new online retailer clients.

FedEx in February launched FedEx Fulfillment, an e-commerce logistics service that targets small and medium businesses. “The strength of the FedEx portfolio allowed us to bring to market a fulfillment solution with advanced warehouse management, the latest same-day cut-off times, two-day ground shipping throughout the United States and a seamless return process,” Subramaniam said on the call.

In January, FedEx announced an alliance with Walgreen Co., No. 37 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, to allow consumers to have their e-commerce packages delivered to Walgreens stores for pickup and dropoff. The arrangement is part of the FedEx On-Site program, which also includes some Albertsons and some Kroger grocery stores, plus select Office Depot and OfficeMax stores. Subramaniam said on the earnings call that the Walgreens rollout has begun and nearly 8,000 Walgreens locations will offer the service for the 2017 peak season. In January, he said, “Our research has shown that customers rank pharmacies as a preferred location for accessing their e-commerce shipments.”

For the fiscal third quarter of 2017 ended Feb. 28, FedEx also reported:

  • Total revenue of $15.00 billion, up 18.1% from $12.70 billion in the same period last year.
  • FedEx Ground revenue of $4.69 billion, up 6.3% from $4.41 billion.
  • Revenue from FedEx Express of $6.78 billion, up 3.4% from $6.56 billion.
  • Net income of $562 million, up 10.8% from $507 million.

For the first nine months of fiscal 2017, FedEx reported:

  • Total revenue of $44.59 billion, up 19.3% from $37.39 billion in the same period of fiscal 2016.
  • FedEx Ground revenue of $13.40 billion, up 9.0% from $12.29 billion.
  • Revenue from FedEx Express of $20.18 billion, up 2.2% from $19.74 billion.
  • Net income of $1.98 billion, up 4.8% from $1.89 billion.
  • Ground average daily package volume of 7.96 million, up 5.4% from 7.55 million.
  • Revenue per package (Ground) of $8.05, up 4.3% from $7.72.

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Ken Wood is the founder of LJM Consultants. LJM helps clients negotiate “Best in Class” UPS/FedEx agreements. LJM was recently named the “best parcel auditing company in America” and was also inducted into Inc. Magazine’s Top 500/5000 fastest growing companies in America for 2013. To learn how LJM Consultants can help your company get the parcel contract you deserve, call 631-844-9500 or email kenwood@myLJM.com.