Carriers counter the threat of Amazon & Co
says Dieter Bambauer
Delivery operators are taking different approaches to working with the world’s leading marketplaces, Amazon, eBay and Alibaba, according to several experienced logistics managers.
The rapid growth of the ‘Big 3’ online consumer marketplaces and their different strategies in terms of logistics and delivery are generating new challenges for carriers, including having to decide whether to cooperate or compete, a panel discussion at the recent Leaders in Logistics Last Mile Delivery conference in London showed.
Amazon is rapidly and aggressively building up its own logistics and delivery operations in the USA and various European countries. US rival eBay is the opposite case, with relatively few fulfilment services for its sellers and a wide range of delivery partners in different countries. For its part, Alibaba has bought stakes in its main Chinese delivery partners and is currently developing an international network of strategic partners.
Patrick Gallagher, the long-serving CEO of British same-day delivery specialist CitySprint, told an audience of retailers and carriers: “Amazon is a friend. They are fuelling the market.”
CitySprint worked with the e-commerce giant before it started to build up Amazon Logistics in the UK, he pointed out. “Now they are a competitor. We will work with others to build up their businesses.” For example, traditional retailers can catch up by using stores for local deliveries, Gallagher explained.
The situation in Switzerland is very different, according to Dieter Bambauer, Swiss Post’s head of parcels & logistics. Amazon does not have a Swiss marketplace or offer its Prime service in the country, meaning Swiss online shoppers have to buy, for example, from its German, French or Italian marketplaces. “We are a partner for them distributing their goods,” he explained.
Bambauer and fellow panellist Sebastian Steinhauser, founder and CEO of last-mile delivery specialist Parcelly, agreed that Amazon was essentially a technology company rather than a retailer with its own products.
Alan Barrie, a former Royal Mail and IPC manager who is now advising Transport for London, warned the mostly British and European audience about Alibaba’s impending arrival. “You haven’t seen anything yet. They are setting up a global supply chain. Their presence in our markets will increase hugely,” he predicted. “Don’t get fixated on Amazon.”
In other conference sessions, various start-ups presented their products and services in short ‘lightning pitches’.
Andrew Kaneshiro, Principal Product Manager at Mercedes-Benz Vans Future Transportation, presented the automotive group’s new ‘smart van’ COROS. This high-tech delivery vehicle has time-saving integrated scanners to scan barcodes as parcels enter and leave the vehicle and tracking technology to help the driver find the right package quickly. The system also enables companies to monitor how long it takes to load vans and make the delivery.
Patrick Leysen, bpost’s head of innovation and founder of parcel delivery platform Parcify (now owned by bpost), told a roundtable session how the start-up had moved from geolocation-based deliveries into home deliveries, and had now integrated bpost’s Sprinter service into its portfolio.
Byron Dunne, Northern Europe manager for delivery technology provider Urbantz, told delegates that the startup had helped clients to successfully achieve a 15% reduction in mileage and a 30% increase in vehicle occupancy.
The Leaders in Logistics Last Mile Delivery 2019 conference was organised by Marketforce. CEP-Research was a media partner.