Freight forwarder Deutsche Post DHL CEO Frank Appel spoke to a German regional newspaper, mentioning that the company plans to provide its customers near-exact delivery time forecasts by email in advance. This email message will be followed with another alert 15 minutes before the package reaches their doorstep, which is ascertained based on the GPS position of the delivery van.
Appel stated that DHL has always sought to enhance its quality of delivery, which he said has improved significantly over the years. Nonetheless, statistics put forth by the German Federal Network Agency show contrasting figures, with the agency receiving around 12,600 written complaints against postal delivery companies – six times higher than the number of grievances a few years before.
DHL has stayed true to its principle of ‘first-in, first-out,’ wherein the earliest received packages leave the facility and reach the addressee first. “First received packages or letters must always be delivered first. Even when there is an extremely high inflow of packages, nothing must be stored intermediately. So it is practically impossible that customers wait longer than necessary for a product or a letter. This was certainly the biggest annoyance for many people, whereas the delay of one day in times of very high shipment volumes has less importance,” said Appel.
Appel contended that accurate delivery time forecasting would be the future of DHL deliveries. The company has already initiated test runs in certain regions to fine-tune the system, which is expected to be mainstream by 2020.
This push for accurate delivery time forecasting by DHL showcases a general trend within the logistics industry to consciously strive to make supply chains more customer-centric. Stakeholders within the value chain are waking up to the importance of having visibility within their operations, in order to both reduce costs and improve customer service.
Appel’s statement follows July increases in the cost of German postal services. Stamps for a standard letter increased by 10 cents to 80 cents, and postcard prices went up by 15 cents to 60 cents per piece. Deutsche Post defended the decision to raise prices, saying it was necessary to manage logistics costs that were creeping up every year. Postal volume and logistics have been taking a hit because customers have increasingly moved to digital forms of communication while phasing out postal usage.
DHL previously released a report pointing out the challenges in last-mile delivery arising from rapid urbanization. With over 600 million more people living within an urban setting by 2030, it is critical for logistics companies to develop new methods to consistently keep improving their service levels.
Katja Busch, the chief commercial officer at DHL, mentioned in the report that ecommerce is increasingly becoming a critical part of the last-mile logistics equation. In response, DHL is using technology to further and quicken its reach – including machine learning to better route shipments within cities and adding more automation to its delivery networks.