DHL Avoids Domestic Fray by Cornering Market on Shipping to Overseas Consumers

Photo Credit: SASCHA STEINBACH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
November 27, 2018
Updated 5mo ago

By Carlo Versano

As e-commerce continues to rise globally, DHL has found a niche in shipping American products to online buyers overseas ー while staying above the fray of the domestic shipping competition.

Greg Hewitt, CEO of DHL Express in the U.S., told Cheddar that Cyber Monday ー his company's biggest shipping day of the year in terms of "outbound" packages ー saw a 40 percent lift in packages moved year-over-year, as more overseas consumers took advantage of deals on major U.S.-based websites like Amazon ($AMZN). "We're the leader in moving those American goods to people around the world," Hewitt said.

DHL Express, which is a division of the German logistics giant Deutsche Post, has invested significant capital in its American operations, and the fruit of that investment is coming to bear, according to Hewitt. The massive, recently expanded DHL hub at the Cincinnati airport allows for synergies with Amazon and other merchants that promote cheap, fast shipping. The Cincinnati hub allows many of those packages headed for the East Coast to get to their destinations overnight, Hewitt said.

DHL prides itself on moving packages almost anywhere on the planet within two to three days, but Hewitt said it's also focused on using technology to give consumers more information about their shipments. DHL is using route-optimization software, not unlike the algorithms that get your Uber to your door, to create efficiency. It also has auto-sort robotics in place at its facilities, and is using software to increase transparency over duties and taxes for international shipments.

Asked whether DHL worries that Amazon ー now one of its biggest customers ー may create its own delivery operation to handle its millions of packages as has been reported, Hewitt brushed off the concern. Because of DHL's global reach, it has the benefit of being a partner to American companies like Amazon, without having to also worry about being a competitor. At least for now.