Same Day Deliveries from Retail and E-commerce? ‘Tech is the way’, says Top Delivery Service Operations Director
Delivery service companies are again at the forefront of innovation. There was a time when long distance package delivery was a wonder, now companies do it in a day. Customer requirements and expectations have evolved, and the industry has truly stepped up using technology as a powerful driver.
Today we speak to an industry veteran with close to two decades of raw delivery management experience. Liam O’Sullivan has earned matchless following and adulation in his career. He is the Director of Operations at International Post Corporation (IPC), Brussels, Belgium.
In his own words, Liam has ‘hands-on understanding of how to plan, manage and deliver change through people, processes, systems, and automation’.
In this exclusive interview, we get to learn, directly from his rich expertise, about the primary challenge facing the industry, the role technology would play in delivery services, and about the current customer sensation, ‘same-day deliveries’. And he does this in his own laconic style with totally rational and to-the-point answers. This one’s a fast and exciting read with valuable and lasting insights. Let’s begin.
LogiNext Team (LT): It’s great to have you with us, Liam. Getting on with the questions directly, what is the major or primary challenge facing the delivery services industry in terms of last mile package movement?
Liam O’Sullivan: The last meter remains the biggest challenge in achieving an actual delivery event to ensure high customer satisfaction. This is compounded by multiple operators operating very different solutions to solve the last meter.
LT: You have close to two decades of experience in delivery services. In your opinion how has technology evolved from being back-end support to a point where now it is a key logistics optimization enabler?
Liam: It has moved from a nice to have to a must-have in the past decade. Technology is now the essential component in logistics optimization, from dynamic route planning, interactive tracking and notification. Done well, it is a complimenting extension of each and every person operating in logistics operations.
LT: How important is technology adoption for delivery service companies in the retail and e-commerce heavy world?
Liam: In short, they (retail and e-commerce companies) cannot compete and win without the widespread integration of smart technology into their core processes.
LT: Same day deliveries. Customers are expecting this more and more. How best would the delivery service industry scale their operations to handle the dynamic nature of fast package delivery?
Liam: Smart analytics combined with smart technology and a much closer operational integration with e-retailers (to enable scaling of same-day deliveries in the delivery service industry).
LT: Proper delivery schedule and route planning hold the key to increase logistics efficiency and reduce package movement costs. How would route planning, optimized with the use of technology, affect current and future package movement?
Liam: This is a must particularly where delivery operators currently rely on their fixed USO letter routes to carry e-commerce packet traffic. I see it as delivery occurring across a 24-hour period, rather than in fixed windows and all of this will require that consumer choice of delivery times is integrated into the technology used to plan and optimize delivery routes.
LT: You have helmed national and international delivery movement overseeing thousands of delivery and field workforce. How does one go about managing change brought in by new tech adoption (especially when the process, order allocation, package tracking, and validation can be automated)?
Liam: The only way to successfully do this is to have a well-engaged workforce educated on the demands of the business and fully understanding what must be done in terms of flexibility and customer and consumer focus to compete and win new business. Training and acceptance of the new technology are key, and management must always remember to plan based on the fact that people are still critical to success despite all the advances in technology.
Recommended Download: Case Study about Route Planning for Leading Delivery Service Company.
More about Liam:
As Director Operations, Liam O’Sullivan is supervising IPC’s operational solutions, aimed at enhancing cross-border mail and parcel services.
Prior to joining IPC, Liam has held several senior managerial and project management functions at Irish postal operator, An Post. He was a member of the Executive board of An Post from 2004 serving in several Director level positions. Since 2009, as Director of Mails Operations, he was in charge of the overall direction and management of all mails, parcels and freight operations, both nationally and internationally.
Liam studied in Cork and at the London Business School.