From 'one day' to one-day: expectations in global shipping

Sam Steele
Sam Steele
Discover content team
5 min read
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shipping containers on a ship

As customers become ever-more demanding, e-commerce stores are being put to the test in new ways. With next-day delivery (and even same-day delivery) becoming the norm, how can SMEs keep up with big business, and what innovations are changing the game in logistics?

amazon package

In April 2019, Amazon announced that it was working to offer free one-day shipping as the default for Amazon Prime customers1. For Amazon, it was a step towards providing an improved, more streamlined customer experience with same-day courier services. For their competitors, it was a potentially enormous threat. In the battle for business, quick delivery can make the difference between a sale being made and a cart being abandoned.

            “…two-day shipping may seem too slow before we know it” - Brian Nowak, Morgan Stanley

Obviously, that’s a big concern. But when it comes to cross-border international commerce, how can small companies stay competitive? Now, we’re going to level with you, we might be a little biased when it comes to recommending a company that can help you with this particular issue. And honestly, we believe we’re right to be.

amazon packages in warehouse

Why are expectations changing?

The world is, in simple terms, a more connected place. While there used to be a resignation that items would take time to cross borders, the processes, systems and people required to get your package from A to B have become much more streamlined. More companies can transport more goods, more often, to more places. And, as people become used to this, their expectations when comparing domestic and cross border international delivery become more aligned.

A 2019 study by Accenture3 showed that shoppers are demanding to know more about their shipment – whether it’s the landed costs (51%), returns process (57%), or the delivery charges prior to purchase (70%). What used to be the preserve of traditional postal and delivery services is now being disrupted by innovation-led start-ups, with the ability to adapt to changing customer needs. Meanwhile, a study by IPC4 in 2019, across 14 countries, revealed that 32% of people would choose faster delivery as the one thing they would improve when it comes to international delivery.   

person pulling shipping trolley

How is this possible?

Delivery companies are constantly searching for the most efficient route to their customers. In 2004, UPS implemented a policy that stopped drivers from turning across oncoming traffic. Although these delivery route plans may seem to take longer, they actually reduce the amount of time drivers spend waiting to turn – which wastes fuel – and massively reduces the risk of accidents.

Meanwhile, hyper-localized warehouses are popping up in cities everywhere, changing supply chain strategy – planning to service the additional 600m people forecast to live in urban environments, According to Roy Hughes, EVP Network Operations Europe, DHL Express, several ‘power cities’, such as New York and Beijing, are “facilitating and driving this localization trend,” and we don’t think it’s going to stop any time soon.

flowers in a box

Innovations: Packaging

While a lot of people are happy for packages to be left on their doorsteps, there are obviously concerns when doing so – but brands are adapting to avoid situations like this with different packaging strategies. Products that are traditionally bigger than a letterbox slot are finding ways to fit through the door – and avoid the potential for being stolen from the porch.

Bloom & Wild, a UK-based florist, have managed to not only get around postage issues with their innovative boxed bouquets, they’ve also managed to become more sustainable.

             “Our clever letterbox design uses 80% less packaging than traditional flower deliveries.” - Sara Gordon, Brand Director, Bloom & Wild

And another brand that’s seen success through a little creative shape-shifting is Garçon Wines – whose flat wine bottle, made from recycled materials – is not only 40% smaller (while maintaining the same amount of wine), but completely sustainable.

We’ve written before about the opportunity that packaging provides for your marketing – but what other innovations are making a difference?

two vans parked

Innovations: Vehicles

McKinsey5 predicted, back in 2016, that the move to autonomous vehicles, including drones, will see close to 80% of all deliveries being done so in this fashion in the future – with bike couriers accounting for just 2% of all deliveries.

Around the world, electric vehicles are becoming more and more prominent. With environmental concerns centre stage, the race to commercialize battery-powered environmentally friendly vehicles is on. And that’s no different in the logistics and delivery sphere. In 2018, DPD opened an all-electric depot in London’s Westminster to service the capital’s delivery needs – and has since opened two more. Meanwhile, specialists Gnewt have partnered with brands such as ASOS to provide 100% electric delivery to the city’s shoppers.

DHL courier holding a DHL parcel

OK, so how can I send my package?

On Demand Delivery

Convenience, flexibility, up-to-date information… ODD has it all. Customers can not only change where they want their shipment to arrive when it’s out for delivery, they can change the time or the date as well. Providing this on demand delivery service, DHL Express can keep both sender and recipient in the loop about where their package is at every stage.

Time Definite International

If time is of the essence, TDI is the answer to your needs. Combining global reach with local specialists, it offers speedy delivery, end-to-end tracking, and customs clearance – so you can get your customers what they need, as soon as they need it, regardless of what delivery time that is. Be that before 0900, or by the end of the day, there’s an option you (and your customers) will love.

How can small business owners take advantage?

Research from Salesforce7 has shown that 76% of customers find it easier than ever to take their business elsewhere. Let’s consider this again. Over three-quarters of your customers could easily abandon a brand for another at the drop of a hat if they weren’t satisfied.

But do you know what does keep them satisfied? Getting their delivery quickly, and easily. 

The DHL Website Health Check can ensure you are properly prepared to sell and ship internationally, while ODD and TDI delivery options give you and your customers the control you need when getting that package from A to B. Here’s what Monika Trojanowska, Founder of Aftersocks, had to say about the benefits of using DHL Express for her business:

"Using a well-known logistics partner like DHL Express can help to reassure your customer that the order placed will get delivered to them. We provide both options on our webshop – a cheaper one without a tracking code, and a more expensive option with track and trace.

We see that most of our customers choose the option with the track and trace, so they are always able to see what their package’s status is. This is not only convenient for our customers, but saves us a lot of customer service questions – as most of those are shipment status related."