FedEx launches flexible delivery service

FedEx Corp launched a new service to let customers select from a range of options to schedule dates, locations and times of delivery, catching up to rival UPS, which offered its "UPS My Choice" service more than a year ago.

Residential shoppers, who are a growing part of the company's business thanks to the rise of online purchases, can receive notification of FedEx Express and FedEx Ground packages, and track and manage deliveries without a tracking number or FedEx account.

UPS launched its service in September 2011 to help enhance first-time delivery with consumers getting alerts and details on the specific timeframe for a shipment.

Raj Subramaniam, executive vice president of marketing and communications at FedEx Services, told Reuters the growth in ecommerce made it the right time for the company to launch FedEx Delivery Manager through its FedEx Services subsidiary.

"In the second quarter, overall online sales (in the US) grew 15 percent while GDP was somewhat between 1-2 percent," he said, adding that it would put FedEx at a competitive advantage over rivals.

But at least two analysts said FedEx was late in offering the service and that it would not change FedEx's game by much.

"I think offering services at parity is normal for both companies," said Morningstar analyst Keith Schoonmaker, who added that his valuations on FedEx would not change.

The analysts said FedEx was most likely late in offering the new service because it was testing it to work out any possible glitches.

FedEx Delivery Manager is available through multiple digital platforms including a free mobile app, letting customers request alerts via email, SMS text or phone - providing advance notifications about packages being shipped to their homes.

The service also lets customers request options without being locked into a premium-priced membership.

(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Chicago; Editing by Bernard Orr)

(This story was refiled to correct the executive's designation in the fourth paragraph)