Brussels: logistics company can boost e-commerce European business, DHL study shows

Oana Vasiliu 23/02/2018 | 16:05

Following the grand opening of the DHL Express new regional hub at Brussels Airport, the world’s leading international express service provider, has released a white paper with Cranfield School of Management investigating the current trends and significant potential of the international e-commerce landscape for business- to-business (B2B) companies. The paper provides a practical guide to specific digital features and strategies used by businesses that are developing a cross-border e-commerce offering and presents a framework for companies to better understand and benchmark their own level of e- commerce development. 

“We all do online shopping worldwide and we expect to have it deliver next day”, was a statement often repeated to the event.  But is that possible?

Read also: DHL’s logistics secret in Europe

“We have seen B2C e-commerce grow at a faster pace than most other industry sectors in recent years, with premium cross-border shipments growing from 10% to more than 20% of the volumes of DHL Express,” said Ken Allen, CEO, DHL Express. “As this study shows, there is the same potential for cross-border B2B e-commerce to grow at a dynamic pace, and the DHL Express network will be an enabler of that for businesses around the world.”

“E-commerce is radically transforming the way in which B2B companies operate and opening up new market opportunities around the globe while simultaneously challenging many established companies to keep up with more agile newcomers,” said John Pearson, CEO, DHL Express Europe. “The most successful e-commerce companies today provide an enhanced customer experience comparable to what we all now know from our personal online shopping activities. To compete in this changing market environment, B2B companies are also having to change their supply chains, becoming more transparent, streamlined, responsive and flexible. Based on both our longstanding relationships with the B2B sector and our success in serving cross-border B2C, DHL Express is very well placed to help industrial companies expand more actively into e- commerce.”

For companies looking to build flexibility into their networks and to take advantage of the overseas demand that arises – sometimes unexpectedly – with the launch of an e-commerce offering, international express logistics companies can provide global networks that make door- to-door access to overseas markets and a premium service offering possible. This allows B2B companies to win business from new customer segments in an efficient manner, without the need for extensive warehousing and distribution networks in markets with low volume. They also provide indirect benefits to e-commerce companies by providing additional brand credibility and trust, streamlining their logistics processes, and minimizing financial risks by reducing the time spent by inventory in transit and ensuring full visibility on orders.

Study says that based on a combination of desk research and in-depth interviews, the white paper identifies five categories of features that are essential to B2B e-commerce platforms: digital infrastructure, customer experience, customer personalization, seamless integration and synchronization of logistics. It also offers practical recommendations to companies that wish to further develop their capabilities across these five categories, such as using business intelligence tools to capture better data and enhance customer insights and looking at the supply chains of major retailers for inspiration when developing omni-channel sales networks (i.e., combining brick and mortar and web or mobile shops).

Amazon seems to gain terrain on the European market. But what’s happening with the other international e-commerce players, especially Alibaba and Ali Express from Asia? For Business Review, Ken Allen, CEO, DHL Express, said that “Alibaba is more like a brokerage player, they are not trying to build logistics infrastructure in Europe, as Amazon does. (…) I think that they will utilise more the traditional logistics players unless it comes to a point that Amazon found – the logistics players can’t exceed all their expectations so they are building their own infrastructure.”

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