The Final Mile Vodcast is a series of interviews with some of the top names in the logistics, automation, and delivery management industry. Hosted by the award-winning host, Timothy Dooner, here’s an interview with the one and only, Peter Somers who brings us insights from his 30+ years career in the industry. A Belgian national, Peter joined Emirates Post more than two years ago prior to which he was with the Belgian Post from 2000 to 2014. He has vast experience in change transformation and digitizing processes. Watch the vodcast below and get the major points in text in the form of an interview:
LN: What were the biggest challenges in the Final Mile Postal Service?
PS: Capacity was the #1 challenge that was faced as people were working from different cultures. Mainly undertaking the blue-collar and white-collar jobs. A couple of drivers had to fly back home while a few were ill due to COVID. The orders were skyrocketing as there was a strict lockdown, which also led to the capacity shortage. The orders were delivered through taxi drivers and other outsourcers.
Challenge 2: Keep workers safe and healthy: We had to move fast into contactless deliveries to avoid any contact with our customers and also contactless transactions.
Challenge 3: Bringing out people in speed with remote working: Our staff was offered laptops, PCs, and required tools to continue working in a safe environment. Later with vaccination, we ensured that our staff was fully vaccinated, which not only helped build trust amongst customers but also amongst staff.
LN: How were grocery pick-ups and deliveries being managed?
PS: The initial hurdle of the e-commerce section has now been resolved in most countries: Which was about internet penetration. There still was a market of 80% offline and 20% online service. But with covid, one can almost see the growth of three years in just one. The growth will remain high, it’s certainly not going to be the case where the trends turn reverse ie., 20% offline and 80% online. I trust the process to grow faster now that most people are hooked on online shopping.
LN: What were the challenges faced by a postal provider, especially on larger deliveries?
PS: I think this is more of an organizational issue, where quicker deliveries can be made through smaller vans (20-30kg. max) for efficient last-mile delivery solutions. For larger deliveries, one should look to get a bigger van and a two-man team to complete the job. With most things being sold online, most logistics operators will be helping you bring your deliveries to your address. Bringing real-time communication will play a key factor to improve customer experience.
LN: What changes can be observed from a single package delivery view?
PS: We are working on a recent project to bring the deliveries to your doorstep, by yourself (for groceries), or other products by a third party. Note: A single entity would be delivering you the products at a specific time, at your convenience. Similarly, you can also get reverse logistics, i.e send back the products that were not of the required quality, or had some defect. This is a sustainable solution as well reducing CO2 emissions and causing lesser annoyance to the customer.
LN: Would deliveries still have a human touch or will robots take over?
PS: I believe there is still time for drones and robots to take the delivery option. In places, they might be used for special deliveries, or places where a van cannot travel, which is a niche market. I believe in time, the entire process in the supply chain would be automated. Only the delivery guy/ girl would be the human element left to add to your experience for last-mile delivery solutions.
LN: Which is the place where technology would have the biggest role to play?
PS: Today, there is about 50% involvement of tech and 50% of human interaction. But with the rise in AI, continuous learning, and automated learning. The use of technology to learn paths, customer profile, business profile, etc. Technology would help improve the accuracy, get better notifications as things are done in real-time, visible to the customer. Once the order is placed, you as the customer will be able to see the delivery route, from the logistics leaving from the warehouse to reaching your destination. AI would certainly play a crucial role in last-mile delivery solutions.
LN: How does Amazon have an impact on the market?
PS: Amazon had brought SUK.com and used a hybrid delivery network. Noon is another new entrant, which brings all the yellow branding, and so the yellow sale. I firmly believe that newcomers still have the opportunity to do well in the market, but would also need extra work done to make a name for themselves.
LN: How would you describe your team in one word or phrase during these challenging times?
PS: With our slogan being “Delivering Happiness”, we tried to continue the trend. Serving the customer with a smile as we are the online human experience in the entire setup and delivering products with a smile will ensure the best customer experience.
Stay tuned for more blogs from top leaders in the Last Mile Space.