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COVID-19 sparks the ‘next normal’ need for digital solutions

By Bill Royal, Managing Director of Information Technology

COVID-19 indelibly changed the way companies do business and highlighted the value of a people-first approach to operating. Some are calling it the “next normal” – expanded digital capabilities and services.

Among shipping insurance providers, UPS Capital® technology solutions address risk in the supply chain, which helps businesses take some of the uncertainty out of trade and ecommerce.

Enter the next normal

The world stopped turning for a moment when cities and countries implemented sweeping measures to stem the spread of COVID-19. Businesses that were able to adapt sent workers home to work remotely and turned to digital solutions and online sales to meet the needs of customers.

Online sales grew 50% in April, according to an analysis by Abobe Analytics. Further, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported online consumer spending was up 14.5% through March 31st from the same period in 2019, as published in DigitalCommerce360. This evidence suggests that people are buying online more than ever before. Businesses need to meet them where they are.

For UPS Capital, technology is key.

“We want our customers to be assured their shipments were protected, and that we would do it with a people-first approach,” said UPS Capital President Mark Robinson. “Digital transformation is how we are meeting the customer’s need.”

At UPS Capital, transactional insurance for single-shipment packages and cargo is easily accessible online. The platform enables businesses to buy cargo insurance one shipment at a time, removing the risk of loss or damage when they could least afford a mishap.

The reality is that working in any situation amid a pandemic is stressful, so it is important for UPS Capital to help businesses keep their supply chains moving and protected.

Travis Dixon manages the 10-member Policy Administration Team responsible for administering insurance policies, including daily online requests for transactional coverage. He noted the previous manual call-in process could take days to obtain insurance coverage.

”No longer do customers have to call and get a quote, or send documentation in manually,” said Dixon, describing the efficiency of the technology. “Customers can now obtain insurance in a matter of minutes and quickly get back to business.”

Well-timed digital transformation

UPS Capital embraced digital transformation months before the pandemic, which placed the company in an excellent position to be able to continue to serve customers online. Now with a heightened sensitivity to risk, more businesses recognize the value of insuring packages and appreciate having technology to quickly access tools that support them.

For example, with UPS Capital Online, customers who experience shipping losses are able to use the online Claims Center to process their claims. Most claims are paid in as little as four business days, reducing frustration and helping customers quickly recover so they can maintain good relationships with their buyers.

And, having a fast online way to obtain transactional shipping insurance gives businesses peace of mind and flexibility at a time when things are changing so quickly.

“It’s excellent timing for us,” said Dixon. “The customer can interact with us when and where they want, at home or in the office. If they want to insure a shipment at 3 a.m. that flexibility is available for them through our digital solutions.”

In a weekly UPS customer impact study of several hundred small to medium U.S. businesses, a quarter of the businesses said they planned to pivot toward digital solutions due to the pandemic. Such data helps direct efforts where businesses need it most.

With the UPS Capital suite of APIs, companies can integrate insurance services into their internal platform for seamless insurance coverage. This is a great time saver for companies who want to automate this process.

To further support UPS Capital customers with shipping claims, the website used to file claims was enhanced when an agile team went into action and updated UPS Capital Online by adding additional functionality like enhanced visibility to claims details, and a simpler 4-step claims process. UPS Capital uses agile project management methodologies and dedicated agile teams to quickly spool up iterations of deliverables.

Looking forward to new technology trends

What can we expect for businesses post-COVID-19? Business consultant McKinsey & Company predicts that more companies will use digital designs to address customer needs, and that there will be an increase in the adoption of agile capabilities for faster test and scale deliverables. Count on UPS Capital to focus on both.

“We’re providing programs to protect our customers’ bottom line,” said UPS Capital Managing Director of Marketing, Business Information and Analytics Kiel Harkness. “Shippers are looking for partners right now – someone to keep their businesses moving with clear and transparent communications and flexibility.”

Business metrics are slowly starting to trend up as companies re-open and use more digital tools. However, recovery will occur over several months, and maybe years.

During that time, look to UPS Capital digital solutions to partner with companies to help mitigate risk and support business customers’ bottom line. People first and digital focused – it’s always the right time for that.

Author: Bill Royal
Bill Royal oversees the IT portfolio for UPS Capital and its affiliates and is responsible for project management, technology operations and application development.

Insurance is underwritten by an authorized insurance company and issued through licensed insurance producers affiliated with UPS Capital Insurance Agency, Inc. and other affiliated insurance agencies. UPS Capital Insurance Agency, Inc. and its licensed affiliates are wholly owned subsidiaries of UPS Capital Corporation. The insurance company, UPS Capital Insurance Agency, Inc. and its licensed affiliates reserve the right to change or cancel the insurance coverage at any time. The insurance is governed by the terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions set forth in the applicable insurance policy and no warranty, guarantee, or representation, either express or implied, is made as to the correctness or sufficiency of any information contained herein. Insurance coverage is not available in all jurisdictions.

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