It’s no surprise that shippers continue to value good pricing, high quality, and superior service as key criteria when selecting a carrier. And it’s no surprise that the regionals have always provided lower costs and more flexible, personalized service. But what most shippers still don’t realize is that the leading regional carriers are now at the same level of technology as the industry giants.

Real-time scanning? Check. Online tracking? Check. Automated sorting systems? Check. In fact, in some instances, regional carriers actually offer technological advantages. An example is timelier online management reports, with POD information, provided the same day as opposed to next-day, which is the case with UPS and FedEx. The upshot of all this advanced technology is that regionals guarantee on-time and intact service that is second to none.

Touching the Customer
Of course, personalized service has always been a hallmark of the regionals, and today this has even greater significance with the need for more specialized deliveries. While it may be hard to quantify the advantages of personal service, there are many tangible benefits. 

It starts from the minute a shipper places a call and discovers there’s no wait, no computer instructions; rather, a real-live customer service representative is on the line ready to serve — and for many customers, it’s the same professional every time they call. So, yes, the cliché about being treated like a person, not a number, is true. 

The high-touch approach continues throughout a shipper’s experience. This is characterized by the willingness of regionals to offer customized solutions to meet individual needs. For instance, special provisions for the delivery of products that may be fragile or may require very early or very late pickups and deliveries. 

Healthcare Delivery Takes on New Meaning
While all industries have time-sensitive needs, the healthcare industry provides a stunning example of how flexible shipping arrangements can make a big difference… sometimes even saving a patient’s life. 

In the mid-‘90s, Eastern Connection identified the need for a 24/7 service dedicated to healthcare logistics for hospitals, physician groups, long-term care facilities, and prisons. We launched our Medical Division as an extension of our established overnight priority service to help medical professionals transport blood and other specimens that require prompt and secure delivery to labs for testing. Deliveries also included medical equipment and instruments that require special care during shipping.

More recently, we have expanded our Medical Division to offer customized home infusion therapy shipments, a service that continues to grow to meet rising demand. 

Some quick background on the booming business of infusion therapy, which typically involves using an IV to administer fluids and medication. Originally, patients receiving this therapy needed to remain in an in-patient facility for the duration of the treatment. However, it became apparent that this strategy was cost-prohibitive, and it hindered patients’ lifestyles. Today, infusion therapy is increasingly being provided at home, and more and more suppliers are fueling this segment’s growth.

The challenge? How to safely and responsibly ship these precious products to patients’ homes. The fact is that many of these patients are elderly and infirm, and they need specialized care…in this case depending on drivers to go “over the threshold” and hand off the package inside the dwelling. Regional carriers will do this. National “drop and run” services will not.

Tech and Touch Takeaway
Perhaps it’s time to diversify your portfolio of carriers and check out the regional alternative. Perhaps it’s time to insist on a carrier that “goes the extra mile,” whether it’s going over the threshold or going to an office or a home even if airports are closed.

Certainly, the “Davids” in our business will never replace Goliath. But the regionals are now at a point where we can do just about everything the giants can do. Sometimes, we “out-tech” them, and at all times, we “out-touch” them. In short, we can do more…for less. 

Ted Kauffman is Chairman of Eastern Connection. Founded in 1983 and based in Woburn, Mass., Eastern Connection, with 17 locations, is the largest regional parcel carrier on the East Coast, covering over 5,000 ZIP Codes. For more information, visit