FedEx Kinko’s delivers remote printing

A new Web services app puts FedEx Kinko’s on the MS Office Print menu

Late last year, FedEx bought the Kinko’s chain of copy centers, heating up competition with archrival UPS. But there was more to the merger than renaming the corner copy shop FedEx Kinko’s. Thanks to this dynamic duo’s File, Print FedEx Kinko’s (FPFK) project, users can now print directly from their Windows desktops to the FedEx Kinko’s location down the block, or for that matter, to any of FedEx Kinko’s 1,100 locations.

Drawing on its partnership with Microsoft, FedEx Kinko’s launched its FPFK service last August. Rather than developing a whole new application from scratch, FedEx linked together various existing internal and external Web services through the .Net platform to create FPFK. Those services include order fulfillment, customer service, technical support, product management, and a store locator.

“I was really impressed with the speed with which the application came together because we reused so many proven Web services,” says Laurie Zeitlin, senior vice president and CIO at Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Kinko’s. “Integration isn’t hard, if it’s well planned. We planned it well and planned out a time frame, and we were good to go.”

Customers install the FPFK client, which requires the .Net Framework 1.1, by downloading it from the FedEx Web site or loading it from a CD. To the user, FedEx Kinko’s looks like a printer selection, but the available options extend well beyond what any one printer could offer. Customers can choose paper size and stock, binding options, even the color of a vinyl cover. As users make changes to an order, the price adjusts accordingly. Before finalizing the transaction, users get a precise print preview.

The user completes the transaction by selecting the location where he or she wants the order printed. An employee in a remote office in Omaha might pick a FedEx Kinko’s near his or her company’s Boston headquarters for a co-worker to pick up. A user can also have a print order shipped from a FedEx Kinko’s to the destination of his or her choice.

Because FPFK integrates so seamlessly with existing services and business processes, FedEx Kinko’s employees needed no additional training. Orders show up in the queue like any other order submitted online.

Not only did reusing existing Web services save time and money; it let the development team concentrate on creating an appealing, easy-to-use UI. “We invested more time [in the UI] to really listen to how customer would use this and … to make it fast, easy, and intuitive,” Zeitlin says.

FedEx will not disclose how many customers are using the product. The company claims approximately 2,000 downloads of the client per week since FPFK launched.

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