Markets Becoming Networks

The main takeaway from a recent summit of third party logistic (3PL) providers in the Dutch city of Venlo was how the logistics market is increasingly becoming a dynamic network. Value creation and transparency are starting to be seen as key drivers of change, often at the expense of such traditional business instincts as driving down costs.

Boris Dobberstein of UPS predicted that companies, too, must increasingly behave like networks if they want to succeed and also be willing to work with more partners, above all with customers themselves.

An example of how this is changing concerned goods bought online. Despite growing consumer sophistication in the world online, delivery itself is still a very blunt instrument largely organised to suit carriers. Customers used to the ease of online buying rightly feel it should be possible to get their purchases without having to wait around at the carrier’s pleasure.

In Venlo, DHL’s Joeri Kuik showcased the carrier’s new My Ways crowdsourcing app, inspired by the highly successful Uber taxi service. Customer and freelance deliverers are alerted when the purchase is ready for pickup from a delivery point. An end customer too busy to collect pays the freelancer to bring the goods to a designated pickup point at a time selected by the customer. The whole process is managed through the app and deliverers and customers are able to communicate in real time via text message. Hence a customer-driven service in which carrier, deliverer, and customer all interact in a dynamic and transparent network aimed primarily to give a satisfactory customer experience.

Expect advances in the parcel delivery industry to spread to the rest of the cargo industry in the next decade, until end-to-end transparency becomes the norm. But judging from the feedback from 3PL delegates in Venlo, seeing one’s competitors as partners in the global supply chain may take a bit longer.

Jem Newton, Senior Reporter, IHS


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