© James Menges dhl
© James Menges

Local knowledge is key to successful e-commerce delivery, with cultural differences affecting consumer expectations.

At last week’s DHL Media Week in New York, chief commercial officer of Deutsche Post DHL Katja Busch said how consumers wanted their goods delivered differed from country to country.

“When setting up e-commerce operations, we are finding different consumer expectations on a country-by-country basis,” she said.

“For instance, in Scandinavia, there’s a preference for the use of parcel stores rather than home delivery, and in Poland, having goods left with neighbours is disliked.”

Ms Busch said this knowledge was helping DHL succeed in a area notoriously hard to make a profit in. From next year, it will provide quarterly reports for the e-commerce division.

In the US, DHL has built much of its e-commerce product around a partnership with US Postal Service (USPS). CEO of DHL E-Commerce Americas Lee Spratt said: “USPS has a 60% share of the final-mile business-to-consumer (B2C) market in the US.

“We tap into its expertise and its knowledge of the markets it delivers in provides an effective solution for our customers.”

Alongside this partnership, Ms Busch said, the role of big data and artificial intelligence was helping the company get to grips with catering to the B2C sector.

In particular, she pointed to the ability of machines to better predict inventory demand and flows, as well as match inventory to available capacity, as a positive development.

“We are finding we are able to achieve more-efficient routings, provide greater shipment visibility, enhance the customer experience and refine pricing models,” she added.

“Even so, understanding what consumers want in each country is important, and there is certainly no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution available.”

However, rival operator UPS is attempting to direct its US consumers towards greater use of alternative delivery sites and click-and-collect stores. It has announced a rewards programme of up to $20 for consumers that use its UPS Access Point locations, as well as other click-and-collect stores.

According to the company, shoppers would not be bound by time restrictions and could collect the package at their own convenience.

To participate, UPS said consumers had to enrol in its My Choice service, with rewards offered for the first, third and fifth package.

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