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How to choose the ideal logistics provider

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Choosing the right company to ship your goods globally can be the key to export success. 

It’s therefore vital for exporters to use a logistics provider that is both experienced and reliable. 

So what should exporters look for when choosing a logistics company? 

Gary Edstein, DHL’s Senior Vice President for Oceania, offers the following advice: 

“You want a company that is global and that is proven and tested. “It’s important for exporters to use a world-renowned transport company because you get reliability. 

“It has to have credibility … a trusted organization that has been around for a long time. 

“You also need a company that can offer a full suite of services as well as the full visibility of your shipment.” 

Mr Edstein says when choosing the best logistics provider it’s not always about the price. 

“You have to be very careful – you pay for what you get,” he warns. 

Mr Edstein, who has had 36 years’ experience in the transport industry, says Australian exporters have a great opportunity to access global supply chains and global distribution channels. 

“So it’s important to use a very reliable distribution organization with a global reach.” 

Responding to customer needs 

Mr Edstein has seen many major changes since he started with DHL in 1986. 

“Back then it was predominantly a document courier company, he says. “In the 90s we transitioned to being a parcel company. Now the bulk of our business is international parcels – both export and import.” 

By anticipating and responding to customer needs DHL has become a leader in its field. 

“We are a very agile company … we move fast,” says Mr Edstein. We have been able to respond and move quickly to market needs. 

“We could have stayed a document company, but we saw that was not going to grow and we moved very quickly into the parcel business.” 

DHL now has a distribution network across 220 countries. 

In Australia, DHL has four divisions with more than 5000 employees:

  • Express Division (documents and parcels)
  • Warehousing and contract logistics
  • DHL Global Forwarding (air and ocean freight)
  • DHL Global Mail (the mail division) 

Mr Edstein is responsible for the Express Division, predominantly documents and parcels.

Track and trace system

“Previously the company was very much a B2B (Business to Business) model, he says. 

“But with the enormous growth in e-commerce we have been able to move quickly and accommodate to a B2C (Business to Consumer) model.” 

DHL offers its clients a state-of-the-art track and trace system to track shipments from pick-up to final delivery. 

And though DHL doesn’t have a presence in every major world city, it uses third party service providers to ensure shipments are tracked for its clients. 

“There can be anything up to 21 check points in the movement of a shipment,” says Mr Edstein. 

Test the market

Exporters looking for overseas opportunities should start testing their products in selected markets. 

“An easy market to start with is NZ because it is demographically similar to us, says Mr Edstein. “The product requirements are similar, so if someone is looking at exporting they should look at certain new markets test their products and start on a similar controlled scale.” 

Choosing the right payment system is also vital. 

“You must make sure you have a very reliable online payment system, such as PayPal,” he says. 

Also, exporters need to understand the regulatory requirements into the countries in which they are trading. 

This includes duties and taxes your products may incur in certain countries. 

“If you’re going to trade online it is better to opt for a full DDP (duty paid) service provision rather than Duty Unpaid, he suggests. So the customer understands totally the full amount they will be charged.” 

Look for demand

Most importantly, exporters should identify the markets in which their products will be in most demand.

This involves extensive research, which usually includes several visits to the countries where you are planning to trade. 

Mr Edstein says DHL can provide contacts in many overseas markets as well as providing advice regarding regulatory requirements. 

With the e-commerce boom logistics providers are now experiencing substantial growth in the small parcel market. 

“I think you will see that continue, Mr Edstein says. “You will see postal authorities around the world moving more into parcels rather than letters.” 

He also predicts continued growth in emerging markets such as Africa, South America, and SE Asia. 

*Gary Edstein has worked as a country manager for DHL in New Zealand and Australia.He also worked for DHL in Tokyo establishing a new DHL Logistics group, Global Customer Logistics (GCL), of which he became a Director. He was appointed Senior Vice President Oceania for DHL International in June 2003. He also sits on the Boards of the Council of Asia Pacific, Express Carriers Australasia, Tasman Cargo Airlines, Express Couriers Ltd New Zealand and Parcel Direct Group as a non-Executive Director.

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