FedEx Blog

FedEx Blog

Continuous innovation fuels FedEx success

September 8, 2015

FedEx Chairman and CEO Frederick W. Smith

Innovation is the holy grail of both businesses and consumers around the world. At FedEx we know it is one of the keys to our continued success as a company. Our CIO Rob Carter recently said it well: “People won’t respect us for our traditions; they will respect us for our innovation.”

We certainly have a great track record for introducing some innovative firsts:

  • Before FedEx there was no such thing as single carrier, door-to-door service for parcels carried by air.
  • We led a movement that resulted in the deregulation of the air cargo industry in America in 1977 that allowed us to buy bigger planes and grow
  • Early on, we knew the information about a package is as important as the package itself. Today, of course, we know how critical digital data is; back then, few saw its potential. But we realized knowing where a package is and when it will be delivered was valuable information to our customers.

Other firsts we rolled out over the years include the world’s first global tracking network for shipments, the first to enable customers to electronically request pickups, the first to use barcode labeling in ground transportation, and the first to allow customers to track packages on the Internet. All this sounds commonplace today, but these were first-of-a-kind technologies brought to customers by FedEx.

Getting technology right, at the right time, is a huge advantage for a business. But it’s tough to do. If companies stay with outmoded technologies too long, they will fall behind competitors or even go out of business altogether. As author and speaker Ross Shafer said, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to hate extinction.” If the bet on a specific technology is the right one, however, there can be a big payoff for being an early adopter.

Boeing 777F FreighterWe at FedEx have embraced new technologies to give our customers the easiest ways to ship and track packages, and we enable our team members to provide great service, all while reducing costs and energy use. More recent FedEx innovations abound:

  • FedEx Ground has the most automated hub network with investments in package-sorting systems that boost speed and reduce damages and in six-sided high-speed scanning systems that enhance data and image capture.
  • FedEx Freight is using technology to shorten its travel times as well as enabling true national less-than-truckload service, something highly uncommon in what has been a fragmented market.
  • FedEx Express has reduced many intercontinental delivery times with its new long-range Boeing 777 freighters.
  • And FedEx Office provides SameDay City service in 23 cities.

Our technology innovations on the front line of business have been recognized by InformationWeek magazine, which awarded us the number 6 spot on the magazine’s 2015 Elite 100 list in the U.S.

Another important innovation front for FedEx is alternative fuels. As a heavy user of jet fuel and gasoline, we know how important it is to reduce our consumption, both for the health of the environment and to minimize reliance on foreign sources. For years we’ve participated in research with various types of alternative energy. We recently signed a long-term agreement to buy 3 million gallons of renewable jet fuel a year from a company called Red Rock. This innovative company uses scrap pulp left over from the logging industry to make its fuel. So it not only puts wood waste to good use, but also helps prevent forest fires in the western United States.


When we look back over the last 40 years or so, we’ve gone from a world where choices were sharply limited to one where choices are abundant – and can be brought to you reliably and quickly, wherever you are.

Advances in technology has made all of this – and so much more – possible. FedEx is proud to be recognized as a technology leader and will continue to provide its customers with innovative options that are faster, better, and often cheaper than in the past.   We know that continuous innovation is the key to dazzling our customers around the world.



    Albert Kenney says:

    Mr. Frederick W. Smith
    Although I do not work for you company and nor do I have any relatives that work for FEDEX; that I know of, and I`ve never sent an e-mail of this sort. I respect and admire your company and will use it always, in my opinion FEDEX simply surpasses all other delivery services on the map. I have been using your company for years and in fact will not purchase goods from any online store that does not use FEDEX as their delivery source. I have always received my packages usually when the delivery day are stamped. I don`t know how you guys do it…you can sure teach the United States postal services many things in parcel deliveries. So congrats and Kudos to you on your fiscal earnings

    F.Drew Hall says:

    Recognizing the tenacious spirit of FedEx,and always very proud to share in the continued success it achieves,I feel it not altogether inappropriate that we should be given a share of FedEx stock quarterly for each year of service we have attained with the company.We ALL value our role in such a diverse and dynamic global leader,Why not allow us to be reciprocated for that measurement of servitude we have given to the collective success.

    Les Baron says:

    I started in the forwarding business when Fred Smith started FedEx, and I have watched in amazment what he has accomplished. Mr Smith is a true innovator in an industry full of companies who wait and see if something works.

    Recently I read an article in Fortune Magazine, where they were naming the top 50 companies in certain categories. The one thing they all had in common was, they would not be where they are today if it was not for Fred Smith and his company, FedEx! Too bad the editors of Fortune didn’t catch this and give some press time to our great company! I am proud to be a FedEx employee!

    Guest says:

    Perhaps we can get more natural gas forklifts for the hub…

    Junichi Miyashita says:

    Thank you for your insightful article, Mr Smith.

    This is a very timely reminder for to all of us that FedEx is all about innovation and that technology is at the center of all those innovative firsts. We often think that technology is readily available to us. However, we miss a vital point that it takes a creative and innovative mind to make full use of it. I believe one of FedEx’s greatest strengths is the fact that we’ve a strong culture of creativity and innovation within and across all our OpCos. That’s exactly sets us apart from the competition.

    Best regards,

    Junichi Miyashita

    Mona ALI says:

    I view the future for FedEx is to have aeroplanes which goes to each balcony and door of receivers of FedEx parcels rather than having so many hands between the senders and receivers to receive their own parcels , so only the pilot will be responsible for the delivery and may be accompanied by one or two persons only on board to help.

    Mona 22.09.2015

    Alak Mutsuddy says:

    Dear Sir,
    Your last sentence really remarkable in our service area that continuous innovation is the key to dazzling our customers around the world!

    Thanks once again for innovative step towards customer and whole nation!

    Wish your sound health with great creativity!

    Alak Mutsuddy
    Bangladeh Express Company Limited.
    Licensee of Federal Express Corporation.

    Michael Aniedobe says:

    I really enjoy the innovative essence that FedEx utilizes!

    Athem Lamey says:

    Plug Power Hydrogen fuel cells for all of the. FedEx tuggers would be a great addition of innovation with a added benefit of saving time, money, and the environment all at the same time.

    Elizabeth Clark says:

    Love the quote on change. So very true.

    Stephen Hoffman says:

    You inspired me when you created a company with a clear purpose and a soul when I went to work for you in 1974! You are still doing it! Thanks

    D. Brown says:

    The conception, success, and global footprint of Fedex is absolutely astonishing!!! One idea, One man birthed a major baby – F. Smith is the man!!!

    Patricia Hanson says:

    Proud to be part of the FedEx family

    jody r mead says:

    from the first day to my last day-I was so proud to work for federal express-oct 12th 1979-july 10th 2013-i could never bring myself to say fedex-thank you fred smith

    Barry Judd says:

    As a young engineer and entrepreneurs , I have followed you and your company. I have worked as vendor to you back in the late 80’s, spent many hours in your Memphis hub in your sort operations and your operations center.

    I came away with respect for your innovation in both technology and mentoring of the local educational infrastructure and institutions.

    Best of luck in the future and keep on innovating.

    R N Jenkins says:

    I still bleed purple today. My work experiences at FedEx will forever be a part of my being. I enjoyed working at FedEx; they people, the company, the over experiences has prepared me for whatever future business endeavors ahead. I have met some famous and nine famous people and have worked with great teams of management and employees whom I am still friends with today. I am blessed to have taken journey.

    Maina ,Harun says:

    I admire FedEx a lot. My zeal to work for FedEx is so high such that whenever I see their trucks I got to turn my head twice. Innovation is the key to success. I want to be part of that. Thank you

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