Q&A: Justine Clark, Industry Marketing Manager, Transport and Logistics, Europe, Honeywell
Honeywell’s Justine Clark talks to RTIH about her company’s thoughts on the package delivery space, and the role technology can play in improving it.
RTIH: How would you sum up the current state of the package delivery sector?
JC: Changing consumer expectations and the evolution of technology have made the package delivery sector more competitive than ever. The increasing complexity of the market in which consumer goods suppliers operate is creating numerous challenges for courier companies.
These issues exist due to increased competition, consumer/retailer price and product offering demands, strained relationships between suppliers and retailers, and being overwhelmed and not able to leverage Big Data.
As well as this, delivery companies are facing an increasing demand to deliver packages faster – and with more accuracy – while also keeping profits low in order to maintain customer loyalty and interest. Because of this, the sector is in a state of rapid change, as companies become more reliant on technology to stay relevant to customers and keep operations running smoothly.
RTIH: How have consumers’ expectations evolved over recent times?
JC: Seamless delivery has become a pre-requisite for customers today. To stay competitive, retailers need to provide their customers with a comprehensive and frictionless shopping experience in the store, online and during the delivery process. The key to consumer satisfaction is to deliver the ability to trace packaged goods throughout the delivery process, combined with fast and low-cost delivery for optimum satisfaction and convenience.
RTIH: How can Honeywell help here?
JC: From the first mile to the last, we can help with workflow solution expertise. Honeywell’s cost-saving postal, courier, express and parcel (CEP) workflow solutions equip packaging companies to increase service quality, productivity and asset utilisation. During the first mile when products move from a retailer to a courier service the process can be slowed because of damaged barcodes. Mobile devices can speed up the data capture of packages, even when damaged, to avoid delays.
Customers demand instant information access throughout the shipping process. It's an expected part of the new customer experience. From point of pickup to final destination, Honeywell’s mobile computing solutions track items automatically, regardless of how many times they’re handled. This technology completes each item’s journey with proof-of-delivery and documentation of condition.
Honeywell can also help couriers handle issues outside of their control. With high speed connectivity and satellite communications technology, couriers can update customers on delays related weather. The solutions deliver proactive customer notifications and transparency to every facet of service. The result is superior customer satisfaction, which leads to repeat business and greater revenue.
Our handheld technologies give drivers an option to preview their routes, communicate with dispatch, track shipments and log their hours, all in one device that replaces paperwork. GPS satellite navigation on the devices lets drivers use turn-by-turn navigation for more accurate routing, and a reduction in miles driven and fuel consumed.
Higher velocity of orders demands accurate data collection, because incorrect information can lead to downstream re-handling costs. Honeywell helps to eliminate errors before they impact downstream operations through automated shipment address verification software and document management workflow solutions. There’s simply no reason to let extra handling and avoidable costs from labour, errors, damage and returns create unnecessary customer dissatisfaction.
RTIH: Which retailers are excelling in this area?
JC: Retailers that are proactively addressing the challenges that can delay a package are leading the way in this area. For example, leading retailers are ensuring real-time connectivity to better track packages, thus reducing the likelihood of lost packages or delays, and improving customer visibility and satisfaction. Leading retailers are also investing in automated solutions to speed up the sortation process and meet consumer demand for fast and accurate deliveries.
RTIH: Are the likes of robots and drones the way forward, or overhyped tech that are looking for solutions to problems that don’t really exist?
JC: As consumers increasingly expect two-day or even same-day delivery, courier companies must embrace solutions like automation and robotics to meet the spike in demand. As staffing challenges and the continued growth of online shopping are pressuring supply chains, these technologies are essential to help make large, integrated distribution centres more efficient. Honeywell recently unveiled a new robotic unloader capable of autonomously ferrying packages from the tractor trailer to the distribution centre with greater accuracy.
For distribution centre workers, unloading packages is labour-intensive, physically demanding and injury-prone work that is often subject to extreme temperatures. With our robotic unloader, we are using advanced machine learning to allow workers to remove themselves from the extreme environment and to oversee multiple unloading machines, increasing productivity and improving safety.
RTIH: What will be the key package delivery opportunities and challenges going forward?
JC: For international delivery companies, maintaining the same level of traceability and accountability over packages is becoming a key challenge, but also presents a great opportunity to give consumers an even better delivery experience and leap over competitors.
Customers want to know where their package is – even when in the air, and Honeywell is leading the way here. Our JetWave hardware brings high-speed connectivity to the aircraft, so packages can be monitored for things like temperature and vibration in real-time at 30,000 feet. Cargo carriers can also monitor their data in-flight with the GoDirect Router and choose the best connectivity option while on the ground – whether it’s Wi-Fi, 4G or satellite. This way, the status of a package is never beyond their reach.