Con­sumer-cen­tred lo­gis­tics drives Di­rect Link

The com­pany be­lieves that to be able to suc­ceed in the cut­throat lo­gis­tics sec­tor, they need to de­liver con­tin­u­ous in­no­va­tion by let­ting go of old suc­cess mod­els in favour of new.

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Based in Sin­ga­pore for over two decades now, Di­rect Link Sin­ga­pore con­tin­ues to in­no­vate to main­tain its com­pet­i­tive edge in the ever-chang­ing e-com­merce lo­gis­tics mar­ket. For the com­pany, pro­vid­ing top-notch lo­gis­tics so­lu­tions means putting more pre­mium on find­ing the right way to the mar­ket than dwelling on which truck takes them there.

Hugh O’con­nell, Di­rect Link World­wide Dis­tri­bu­tion Pte Ltd’s re­gional sales and mar­ket­ing man­ager for the Asia Pa­cific, says they have ob­served a shift away from low-cost un­tracked postal ser­vices to qual­ity tracked and par­tially-tracked ser­vices. In other words, e-com­merce firms are fo­cus­ing on what the con­sumer wants. “Mar­ket­places and re­tail­ers are recog­nis­ing and re­spond­ing to con­sumer be­hav­iour which is driv­ing a more con­sumer-cen­tric ap­proach to lo­gis­tics,” he ex­plains.

The con­sumers, O’con­nell says, are firmly in the driv­ing seat of change. “Rudi­men­ta­r­ily, con­sumers want their or­ders yes­ter­day, they want to be able to see their or­ders in tran­sit and they’d like to pay as lit­tle as pos­si­ble. De­liv­ery choice is also in­creas­ingly preva­lent, in­flu­enced by fac­tors such as tran­sit time, pre­ferred de­liv­ery com­pany, range of de­liv­ery op­tions, such as home de­liv­ery, de­liv­ery to ser­vi­ce­point or par­cel locker, time-def­i­nite de­liv­ery and more,” he says.

E-com­merce hot­bed

O’con­nell says Sin­ga­pore con­tin­ues to of­fer favourable busi­ness and trad­ing con­di­tions which makes it an op­ti­mal lo­ca­tion for re­gional and global dis­tri­bu­tion. The lo­gis­tics firm’s lo­cal op­er­a­tion is sit­u­ated in­side the Changi Air­freight

Cen­tre free trade zone (FTZ) where it runs an in­ter­na­tional mail pro­cess­ing cen­tre for out­bound e-com­merce, as well as a re­gional tran­sit hub that fa­cil­i­tates the onward move­ment of e-com­merce vol­umes orig­i­nat­ing from other parts of the re­gion. The Lion City, he adds, is a prime lo­ca­tion for tran­sit cargo orig­i­nat­ing in other parts of the re­gion.

“Be­ing a rel­a­tively open mar­ket, there is a healthy level of com­pe­ti­tion, not only from the dom­i­nant in­cum­bent post and ex­press busi­nesses, but also other for­eign com­pa­nies en­ter­ing the mar­ket as well as plat­forms them­selves, such as Ama­zon, tak­ing greater con­trol of the lo­gis­tics chain,” ex­plains O’con­nell. “From our lo­ca­tion in­side the FTZ, we can reach con­sumers around the world by lever­ag­ing the global postal net­work in com­bi­na­tion with se­lect com­mer­cial part­ners to ser­vice our cho­sen key mar­kets.”

Sin­ga­pore is also ex­pected to be at the cen­tre of the boom­ing e-com­merce sec­tor. “The op­por­tu­nity how­ever is a hot­bed of fast-emerg­ing ecom­merce mar­kets in ASEAN, not to men­tion gar­gan­tuan con­sumer mar­kets in China and In­dia, all of which are within 5 hours fly­ing time from Sin­ga­pore,” he says.

With its goal to de­liver cus­tom-built so­lu­tions and pro­vide the best pos­si­ble de­liv­ery so­lu­tion to ev­ery client around the globe, Di­rect Link has been ramp­ing up its dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion ef­forts. Data-driven lo­gis­tics, O’con­nell says, is at the fore­front of the com­pany’s key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors.

“Data-driven lo­gis­tics be­gins with en­abling our cus­tomers to in­ter­act and in­te­grate with our ser­vices and sys­tems, from la­belling, or­der track­ing, con­sumer de­liv­ery no­ti­fi­ca­tions, through per­for­mance mon­i­tor­ing and even mar­ket­ing tools,” he ex­plains. “Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion of cross-bor­der lo­gis­tics is largely be­ing driven by global trends in on­line re­tail and con­sumer be­hav­iour. Not only do we con­sider the needs of our cus­tomers but also those of our cus­tomers’ cus­tomers. No mat­ter how we mea­sure our­selves, the con­sumer is the ul­ti­mate barom­e­ter in de­ter­min­ing de­liv­ery per­for­mance.”

Con­tin­u­ous in­no­va­tion

Di­rect Link is very much com­mit­ted to its in­vest­ment in Sin­ga­pore. The lo­gis­tics firm con­sid­ers the city-state a strate­gic gate­way to a wealth of emerg­ing ASEAN mar­kets as well as the Lion City be­ing a grow­ing cross­bor­der e-com­merce mar­ket.

Fo­cus­ing on con­sumer-cen­tred lo­gis­tics means Di­rect Link can­not sit on its lau­rels. The e-com­merce space has moved com­pa­nies from the con­ven­tional re­la­tion­ship be­tween cost and ser­vice — low cost-low ser­vice and high ser­vice-high cost — to the low cost but high ser­vice par­a­digm. This has put pres­sure on the lo­gis­tics sec­tor to do more. “Do it bet­ter than you did yes­ter­day, but do it for less, or as lit­tle as pos­si­ble,” says O’con­nell.

“Con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment, whilst im­por­tant, isn’t enough to main­tain a com­pet­i­tive edge in the cur­rent and ever-chang­ing e-com­merce land­scape,” he adds. “We need to be in a state of flux, of con­tin­u­ous in­no­va­tion, let­ting go of old suc­cess mod­els in favour of new.”

“Rudi­men­ta­r­ily, con­sumers want their or­ders yes­ter­day, they want to be able to see their or­ders in tran­sit. ”

Hugh O’con­nell, Di­rect Link World­wide Dis­tri­bu­tion Pte Ltd’s re­gional sales and mar­ket­ing man­ager for the Asia Pa­cific

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