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Expert Voices: DHL Express US CEO Greg Hewitt on the need for speed

Apr 22, 2024
Photo illustration of Greg Hewitt with a photo of a DHL plant.

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of DHL

DHL Express US hopes to return to its pre-COVID capacity when delivery times were much narrower, CEO Greg Hewitt tells Axios.

Why it matters: Retailers are still navigating inventory challenges and need ways to deliver products faster and directly from the source.

The big picture: DHL wants to get back to delivering items in three days or less after pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions stretched delivery times, Hewitt says.

  • This caused retailers to hold more inventory, buying space from commercial carriers and expecting items to ship on a weekly cadence, Hewitt says.

Zoom in: The company typically strikes annual agreements with fixed prices and a fixed network move as opposed to dynamic pricing, Hewitt says.

  • This allows retailers to budget and plan and "decide which part of their supply is going to move express on a fixed network versus where they're going to take inventory and use air and ocean," he says.
  • This could be a bit more pricey per kilo, but this gives retailers more certainty with their supply chain, Hewitt adds.

Zoom out: U.S. consumers are still buying online, Hewitt says, and in particular, "you see the rise of fast fashion and, with a strong dollar, a lot of goods are still being bought from China and China-plus-one countries in Asia," he says.

  • China still takes the lion's share of volume when it comes to trade, but DHL has seen many companies reduce their dependence on Chinese manufacturing.
  • Footwear and apparel retailers in particular have gone to markets like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.
  • There's also a shift to move production closer to home, especially in Mexico, because of labor, costs, and tariff and duty considerations.

What's next: DHL will invest in technologies to help couriers find effective delivery routes and keep customers posted on the locations of their packages.

  • DHL partners with several vendors, including FarEye, for AI-driven route optimization, coupled with its tools.
  • Streamlining entry and customs clearance in the U.S. has also been a focus, Hewitt says, and it has partnered with companies like Mercury Gate to help it.
  • DHL is also exploring using AI for customer service and billing, Hewitt says.
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