"The internet is also a matter of trust"
Jürgen Gerdes, Member of the Board of Management, Deutsche Post DHL Group
Mr. Gerdes, how will an increasing digitalization, which radically changes habits and consumer behavior, affect your business?
Gerdes: It is both an opportunity and a challenge for us. While the number of letters constantly declines due to the ever increasing use of electronic communication channels, digitalization offers huge new opportunities particularly for a company like Deutsche Post DHL Group. Firstly and apparently because the many goods ordered via the Internet must also be delivered to their recipients. We are of course more than willing to provide that service. Secondly, we can transfer our reputation of reliability, confidentiality and bindingness from analogue communication to the digital world. We strive to do this for instance with our E-Postbrief, which is seeing an increased interest from business and private customers.
Aren't technology or telecommunications providers in a better position to succeed in the digital world than rather traditional companies such as Deutsche Post DHL Group?
Gerdes: Not necessarily. The internet is also a matter of trust. People basically don't mind disclosing personal information - as long as they can be certain that those data are treated with care. Deutsche Post has been trusted with this kind of information for centuries in the analogous world. We are therefore, in a sense, the natural provider of secure digital information. Naturally, the technological know-how and the platforms we need for this service must be state-of-the-art, but they are ultimately only the means to an end.
Security, reliability and trust - these are also important keywords when talking about online shopping. How important is the current e-commerce boom for Deutsche Post DHL Group?
Gerdes: With all due modesty: This boom would be unthinkable without us. In a sense, we are the bridge that links the digital and the real world. With our comprehensive infrastructure - and our presence in 220 countries and territories - we ensure that the ordered goods reach the client safely, quickly and conveniently from wherever they are sent. We therefore benefit substantially from the fact that an increasing number of people order ever more products from across the world via the internet. Our parcel business is thriving and will remain one of the most important growth drivers of Deutsche Post DHL Group in the foreseeable future - incidentally, we will also invest heavily in this business over the next years.
What are your plans in this business area?
Gerdes: We will invest 750 million euros in the expansion of our network. As a market leader we want to offer our customers even better and more innovative services going forward. Firstly, we want our parcels to reach the recipient just as quickly as letters - typically the next day all across Germany. Secondly, the modern infrastructure we are building will enable us to extend our offering - for instance in the transportation of food or pharmaceuticals. Thirdly, we are increasing transparency, which will make it even easier for customers to track their deliveries in real-time. Business customers will mainly appreciate that they can drop off parcels at DHL for shipment much later in the evening than it is the case today.
Consumers will likely be most interested in whether an online order they are eagerly awaiting will also be delivered if they happen to be not at home.
Gerdes: Flexibility is one of our customers' most important needs. This relates, for instance, to the delivery of a shipment on a preferred day, which we have already implemented. Going forward, however, we want to give our customers even more short-term flexibility to decide where a shipment is to be delivered to. As early as in the first half of 2012, we will have launched a new portal, Paket.de, which will pool all individual parcel shipment offers of Deutsche Post DHL Group. In the future, we want to give our customers the possibility to control the receipt of their shipments and receive the parcel exactly as they wish. Which also means that they can always track the current location of their shipment and change the delivery address even on short notice. This total freedom is the future in the parcels business. We are working on delivering it.