Parcel delivery: another league

Now that the article written by (Enith Vlooswijk, Postdrone? Slim samen vervoeren is beter), is published in Trouw on Tuesday December 24, 2013, I would like to follow up with some extra issues putting the European parcel delivery difficulties into another perspective.

Volumes in Europe are significant, especially in peak periods like Christmas. However compared to what happens in China,… peanuts. On November 11 (or 11.11, Singles Day, an important day in China), sales reached almost 4.5 billion euro. In one day. To compare, Cyber Monday 2013 in the US reached around 1.5 billion euro of sales. The largest player in the online market is the Alibaba company, which takes around 50% of the orders.

Logically, following the huge amount of sales, there is also a huge amount of parcel deliveries needed: more than 300 million parcel deliveries, that need to be delivered within few days. Needless to say that this creates a huge burden on the different supply chains. How did they handle? Alibaba prepared its supply chain already way in advance. According to the article in SCM World, “The supply chain was prepped with a staff of 800,000 people, 300 newly equipped distribution centres and 100 leased aircraft. The website handled 402 million unique visitors on the day and 152 million parcels were prepped for delivery.” Additionally, a great amount of collaboration, coordination and cooperation, with a specific emphasis on people and accountability of people, was put in place to handle these large volumes in a timely manner.

Interestingly, these last words are circulating in the Netherlands already for quite some time. What I learn from the 11.11 example, is that collaboration, coordination and cooperation, also have great value for managing peak situations, and not only in the business-as-usual state.

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