Lucian Baltaru, CEO Sameday, will be a speaker at BR’s upcoming re:FOCUS on eCommerce, Retail & Logistics. He will be part of the first panel of the day, dedicated to eCommerce and the Courier Industry, where he will talk about the huge potential for online retail and courier companies to develop further, both in Romania and in the region. Previewing the event, Lucian Baltaru sat down with BR to answer some questions about the industry he represents.
How did the courier industry evolve in 2021 from Sameday’s perspective?
The second year of the health crisis generated a more tempered growth in the courier market than that seen in 2020. The application of less restrictive health safeguards, the routine of the pandemic and the return to an intermediate normal continued to grind down consumer behaviour, with consumers choosing both traditional and traditional retail. This adaptation of consumer habits has, in turn, led to a slower development of e-commerce. As courier is the classic partner of e-retail, we see this trend of weighted growth reflected here too.
At Sameday we have observed these trends throughout the year and have prepared ourselves to respond to the challenges and play our part in increasing e-commerce penetration. The focus remained on creating value for customers and making business decisions that answer the question “what do our customers want?”. This is why in 2021 we have increased investments to €50 million, with a significant weighting in the technology area, to optimise sorting and delivery capacity and align internal processes with customer expectations. We know that speed of delivery is becoming the norm in the market, with next-day delivery as standard, which is why we are looking holistically at the needs of Sameday service users. The solutions we develop, from the onboarding process, service integration, to delivery and billing are focused on servicing the needs of customers and boosting their growth potential. Due to the need for online shop development we started last year the internationalization process of Sameday. A little over a year after we started operations, we are already seeing gratifying results in Hungary where we delivered over 350,000 parcels in November alone. With an already stable operational set-up, we will soon be responding to our customers’ need to access a new market for the products we sell.
What is the impact of courier companies on eCommerce?
Our results and those of our customers are interconnected. Delivery performance, quality offered to the consumer, response times and, in short, how we meet the expectations of e-comm users directly impacts online store perception, retention and even the purchase decision. We understand this and aim to meet expectations of predictability, flexibility, control and convenience through every service and tool we develop. Being in control of their time, saving dozens of minutes in traffic and deciding when to pick up their packages are desires of the active lifestyle consumer, and our mission is to meet these needs. At Sameday we understand this, which is why we have invested in the development of the easybox locker network which has grown 10-fold in the last two years to over 2600 points today. The ever-increasing uptake for this service is a testament to the need for delivery solutions that put the customer in control, offering the flexibility and convenience given by proximity and delivery security.
A study we recently conducted reveals that as partners to online shops, we can help increase the frequency of eCommerce shopping if we push the right pedals. And that means giving customers control over when they get their parcel and improved delivery times. As the easybox service points to these issues, plus a concern for reducing our carbon footprint, it was no surprise to us to see a direct link between the service and the appetite for e-shopping. For 60% of online shoppers, the existence of a locker delivery service has an impact on their purchase decision.
How do you see the evolution of courier services in the next year and the period to come?
Despite significant progress during the pandemic period and the continuation of this year’s growth trend, the online retail market is growing in Romania. With internet speeds at levels comparable to Northern Europe, e-commerce penetration is just over half the average in these countries. There is huge potential here for the economy of the country and the region, and realising it depends on a number of factors, from digital literacy to increasing synergies between e-commerce and courier services.
Our partnership with online shops, focused around the customer, is key to the development of both sectors. Creating a virtuous circle where we create value for consumers through innovation and continuous investment in technology is the solution we are banking on for the continued growth of the courier industry. At Sameday we remain focused on understanding and addressing customer needs and creating a continuously improved consumer experience through technology, addressing societal impact issues and providing access to products in markets across the region.