When you order something online, there’s a fair chance that you’ll receive an email within the next few hours providing you with a tracking number from United Parcel Service. With a daily international volume of more than 3 million packages and documents, UPS serves a massive number of consumers and businesses around the globe.
Enabling Global Commerce
Like most companies in its industry, UPS is interested in fostering a global sense of connection through commerce. By delivering to more than 200 countries worldwide, UPS allows the furthest reaches of the globe to feel a little bit closer.
UPS offers a variety of shipping and tracking services for businesses and consumers alike, and does so with the use of continuously evolving technology aimed at streamlining the process for those on both ends of the shipping and receiving chain.
Humble Beginnings Blossomed into Growth
The earliest version of what would eventually become UPS was founded in 1907 by two teenagers in Seattle. It was called the American Messenger Company, and employees ran errands or made deliveries on bicycles or by foot.
The name United Parcel Service was first used in 1922, when the company began to expand into new territories. They began accepting packages from the general public, and therefore placed themselves in direct competition with the U.S. Postal Service in the 1950s, but it took decades before they had finally cleared the barriers that barred them from doing this in every state.
Air shipping by UPS also began in the 1950s, allowing them to offer quick delivery for especially urgent packages. One of the original founders maintained involvement with UPS until he died in the 1980s, and the company has only continued to grow from there.
The company’s revenue reached $72 billion in 2018, and they employ more than 480,000 people globally, so what was once a small operation run by two 19-year-olds has turned into a massive success by any possible measure.
Facing Off Against Fedex
There are a number of delivery companies in direct competition with UPS, but the largest of the competitive brands is Fedex. UPS and Fedex are both established companies (though Fedex is much younger), and they offer many of the same shipping services, plus both feature drop boxes and retail storefronts.
When you look at the numbers, though, it’s clear that UPS beats Fedex out for the top spot. Not only does UPS ship four times as many packages daily, their brand value is also about $4 billion higher than that of Fedex.
A Truck on Every Street
It’s not hard for UPS to stay visible—their easily recognizable brown trucks are almost always present on the street. Still, they have gotten creative with staying relevant to a younger crowd, and one of the most impressive ways they’ve done this is through a partnership with Taylor Swift.
The pop star’s Reputation album cover graced the side of some UPS trucks, causing fans to snap pictures and post them to social media, thus increasing the visibility of UPS in the process.
As with any company that’s been around for more than a century, UPS has faced a scandal or two in its lifetime. Most recently, they have faced allegations from more than a dozen employees of color in Ohio that the company fostered a racially discriminatory environment. The evidence is hard to ignore, and the concerned parties are seeking damages.
Whether a result of this sort of bad press or something else, the UPS brand value has decreased by 5% since 2018. Still, they rank at number 51 on the Forbes list of Most Valuable Brands.
With a tenuous grasp on the industry, the future of this shipping giant remains to be seen. Whether they continue to innovate and thrive or fall by the wayside depends on the coming years.