By Eric M. Johnson

 

ATLANTA (Reuters) - XPO Logistics Inc, the largest provider of last-mile deliveries for heavy and bulky items in North America, unveiled on Wednesday voice-enabled delivery tracking through Amazon.com Inc's Echo or Alphabet Inc's Google Home speakers.

 

XPO believes it is the first large delivery and warehousing company in the world to offer consumers the ability to get delivery tracking updates, or schedule and reschedule deliveries, using smart speakers, the company said at a conference in Atlanta.

 

The voice-enabled technology, available next month, is part of a digital renaissance underway in the old-school trucking industry. For example, last week, XPO unveiled software that allows merchants to track truck and rail cargo in real-time nationwide.

 

"We are responding to where consumers want to go (to manage their deliveries)," XPO Chief Information Officer Mario Harik told Reuters, describing the proliferation of smartphones and speakers, and the desire for greater visibility and control over deliveries.

 

XPO's voice-enabled tracking also comes as XPO works on a major expansion of its last-mile network in the United States, promising to open 85 warehouses by year end.

XPO makes or manages roughly 35,000 deliveries to homes daily, delivering heavy or unwieldy goods like Home Depot Inc barbecue grills, Crate and Barrel furniture, and Best Buy Co Inc televisions from warehouses direct to homes.

It is also the second-largest less-than-truckload operator - truckers that consolidate multiple loads on a single truck.

When accessing Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant, a person's voice command to reschedule his or her delivery would trigger changes in XPO's internal logistics tracking and dispatching software, Harik said. The new delivery time would be reflected on the truck driver's mobile app, he said.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)