A note from the Editor (& Supply Chain Digital January is here!)
TIME TO REFLECT
As we let the dust settle on 2013, the year ahead brings reason for optimism.
And say it carefully: parts of Europe may be through the worst of the recession.
For example, It does genuinely appear that the United Kingdom has turned a corner after the global financial crisis of 2007 and even Spain, one of the worst hit, exited its two-year recession in Q3 2013, showing overall GDP growth of 0.1 percent, according to a report by el Banco de España.
While this is in no way means it is time to relax, the signs are good.
But all this focus on the old world ignores the fact that it is in the developing world where 2013’s supply chain was most taut.
Global giant DHL made big moves to meet the increasing demand coming from West Africa, investing in three new aircraft and an airside facility in Dakar, Senegal.
Yusen Logistics has announced it is to open an office in South Africa, declaring its intention to research the Sub-Saharan Africa market and Global freight network The WACO System, has grown its African membership by two as part of its expansion into emerging markets.
Zereyad Group Transit and Forwarding Plc in Ethiopia, and Speedlink Cargo in Zimbabwe, were welcomed as members, with Richard Charles, WACO Executive Director, saying Africa is a “key market”.
And in the United Arab Emirates, Etihad’s new rail network is a big project to connect key centres of industry and population within the UAE and other Gulf states.
In South America, Cargolux has expanded its network to include 747 freighter flights to Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires on a new rotation due to increasing exports and demand for air cargo capacity from the continent.
The International Air Transport Association reported a 3.9 percent year-on-year growth of air freight volumes for September 2013 on the back of the strong growth observed in Latin American economies in recent months. The region saw the strongest trade increase this year, supporting the continued expansion in air freight demand.
Meanwhile, China is more or less continuing its march towards world domination. Reports from East Asia seem to talk of a slowdown one minute, and a return to speedy growth the next. As for America, it is hard to get a feel for where the old powerhouse is now, or will be in the next five years. But with both nation’s boasting global logistics giants that are immovable mountains in the industry and industrious blue whales in the sea, traversing the globe unabated, it is unlikely either will let its presence in the international supply chain diminish too much.
On top of all this, Industry researcher BSR has released a report that shows Carbon-dioxide emissions for global ocean container freight ships is declining year on year.
And, as this magazine has shown (see October’s technology feature on hand-held devices), the supply chain world is continuing to be at the forefront of technological innovation, big and small.
So then, here’s to 2014 and whatever the world can throw at us. To all logistics leaders and cargo comrades, let’s see what comes next.
I’m sure we can handle it.
Enjoy the issue,
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.