PLANTATION, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--DHL, the world’s leading logistics company, is ready to deliver Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the 2018 holiday season as e-commerce continues to boom. As the only logistics company with services and capabilities to link the entire e-commerce supply chain, the DHL divisions operating in the United States can expect to handle up to 40% more volume in the peak season versus the rest of the year.
U.S. retailers are preparing for another record holiday shopping spree, growing more than 4% with total sales predicted to top USD 1.002 trillion this Christmas season1, boosted by promotions such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Online sales are expected to accelerate at an even faster clip, growing nearly 17% from last year.
To boost productivity and meet the surge in volume, DHL is adding more automation and bringing innovative technologies including using collaborative robots in fulfillment centers that help staffers gather the products needed to fill online orders more efficiently, introducing chatbots to answer customer questions more rapidly and adding more automation to its distribution centers to quickly sort and get parcels ready for delivery.
In New York, DHL couriers will be collecting packages from automated delivery depots and beating the traffic to get them to customers’ doorsteps.
Says Greg Hewitt, CEO for DHL Express U.S.: “We define peak as the period right after Thanksgiving through to Christmas. We really see volumes go up around the globe at this time. In the U.S., our busiest day of the year for outbound shipments is November 26 – Cyber Monday. Our busiest inbound day will be December 17 – the last Monday before Christmas.
To ensure shipments arrive on time, Hewitt says, “First think about your product and how to protect it. Ensure you have the right packaging to move through our network. Next, ensure that your staff is accurately portraying content on the shipment’s commercial paperwork and declaring the proper value – if you don’t know how to do this, ask someone in our team. Most importantly, plan early and ship early, in order to beat potential delays due to weather or customs hold-ups. The assurance we can provide is, if it gets to our stations by December 24th, we’ll deliver it. We don’t close our doors until every package is out and on its way to the final destination.”
DHL eCommerce’s new automated distribution center in northern New Jersey, one of the company’s 19 distribution centers along with three fulfillment centers in the U.S., provides the last mile delivery solution for online retailers. For these merchants, logistics is the back-end support that provides a significant part of the consumer experience. The new center will be launched at the end of the month.
Says Lee Spratt, CEO for DHL eCommerce Americas: “This season will probably be stronger than 2017. The market is growing at 10-15%. I expect a minimum of 10% growth on peak volumes vs. last year, but wouldn’t be surprised to see it hit 20%. The peaks are Black Friday and Cyber Monday – around these days we see a dramatic increase in orders. The volumes usually show up on the Saturday and Tuesday directly after these days. This is when we need the highest amount of labor in our facilities and our operations at full power. Consumer expectations are high – they want to receive their orders just as on any other shopping day – and this is a defining moment for many retailers in winning and retaining business, so it’s critical that delivery providers meet their commitments.”
At Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, DHL Express workers will be loading American goods onto pallets and freighters for export to consumers in Asia and Europe.
Says Mike Parra, DHL Express Americas CEO: "Many of our customers are shipping to the UK, Australia and China. These are key trade lanes, but the rest of the world is still important. A large portion of our growth is now coming from e-commerce and our fast-growing retail channel. In line with the growth we’re seeing over the first and final mile, we’ve made recent investments, for example, in expanded facilities in Tucson, Arizona, Ontario, California, and Baltimore, Maryland. We’ve also invested in air capacity – our customers want speed to market for their own customers, so we have invested in new flights to Vancouver, Lima and Bogota.
“To improve the customer experience, we are also looking at more automation in our facilities, robotic process automation for customs clearance and billing, and chatbots and voice assistants. These enhance the end-to-end customer service experience. You can now opt to speak to someone live or to go through one of our tools that is integrated with Alexa, WhatsApp and other applications to find your package or get other information from DHL Express.”
At the Port of Miami, DHL staff will be supervising the offload of containers filled with consumer goods from trading partners around the world.
Says David Goldberg, CEO for DHL Global Forwarding U.S.: “The peak season usually starts a bit earlier for the forwarding industry, as customers reposition inventory to their fulfillment centers in the U.S. ahead of time in consolidated freight consignments. Last year, we saw an extremely strong peak in the fourth quarter, with a capacity crunch in air freight and ocean freight, and rates going up by more than 100% versus previous months. Now, with the tariffs, inventory is getting pushed forward, so the peak has started even earlier and become more elongated. We are seeing tight capacity in transpacific ocean freight, in particular, which is one of the main trade lanes during the holiday season. And air freight capacity has tightened in recent weeks. Both capacity and rates are tight overall.”
And in Columbus, Ohio, DHL warehouse associates will be working with several innovative technologies that help them make sure that the right products are in every order and get them on the road well in time for Santa’s visit. Vision Picking is among the technologies that DHL is using. These “smart glasses” are an augmented reality tool that provides staff in warehouses with the location of products needed to fill orders; helps reduce pick time and increase order picking accuracy thus providing productivity increases of up to 10%. It also helps reduce employee training time.
DHL is also working with collaborative robots which can see, move, and work alongside people. Made by Locus Robotics, LocusBots are used in e-commerce fulfillment operations, helping staffers locate products for orders and ferrying them from warehouse aisles to the shipment prep area. With the bots, order pickers don’t have to push carts or carry heavy bins. LocusBots are used in several DHL warehouses.
Says Scott Sureddin, CEO for DHL Supply Chain North America: “The expectation of next-day or 2-day delivery is compressing order cycle times and challenging everyone in the supply chain to become more efficient and adaptable to change. The first thing our e-commerce customers want is quality and operational excellence with a continuous improvement culture. They also want experts who are leaders with emerging technologies, who can help them to find ways of improving efficiencies and productivity. And they want agile solutions, which will allow them to respond to changes in their market and business needs.”
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DHL – The logistics company for the world
DHL is the leading global brand in the logistics industry. Our DHL family of divisions offer an unrivalled portfolio of logistics services ranging from national and international parcel delivery, e-commerce shipping and fulfillment solutions, international express, road, air and ocean transport to industrial supply chain management. With about 360,000 employees in more than 220 countries and territories worldwide, DHL connects people and businesses securely and reliably, enabling global trade flows. With specialized solutions for growth markets and industries including technology, life sciences and healthcare, energy, automotive and retail, a proven commitment to corporate responsibility and an unrivalled presence in developing markets, DHL is decisively positioned as “The logistics company for the world”.
DHL is part of Deutsche Post DHL Group. The Group generated revenues of more than 60 billion euros in 2017.
1 eMarketer Holiday 2018 Forecast Update, issued Nov. 5, 2018.