A decade after scaling back its US domestic delivery business, DHL is jumping back into the competitive space with a new service, called DHL Parcel Metro, that helps online retailers meet the growing demand for same-day and next-day deliveries.
The Parcel Metro software platform taps a network of "crowd-sourced" drivers, DHL says, that can provide last-mile delivery in specific cities and regions. The local delivery vendors, DHL says, meet "rigorous quality standards" and are selected to ensure maximum capacity.
The service offers an interface for shoppers, through which they can track shipments and leave special instructions for the courier. Retailers can customize the interface with their own branding.
"Eighty-six percent of consumers associate delivery as part of their total online shopping experience, according to research, thus it's important for DHL to offer services that not only meet their needs, but do so in a highly consistent fashion," Lee Spratt, CEO, DHL eCommerce Americas, said in a statement.
Parcel Metro is currently available in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. It will expand to Dallas and Atlanta in the second quarter of 2018 and then to San Francisco and Washington, DC later in the year.
The new service puts DHL in direct competition with UPS and FedEx, as well as Amazon, which is launching its own last-mile delivery service.
Meanwhile, DHL is investing in a number of other innovative technologies to improve e-commerce logistics, such as robotics and warehouse executions systems. Deploying warehouse execution systems to track inventory can increase the output capacity of a facility by upwards of 20 to 30 percent, Jim Gehr, DHL Supply Chain President of Retail, told ZDNet.
Additionally, DHL has deployed LocusBots to carry inventory and assist warehouse workers. Using hardware like the LocusBots has helped reduce the level of training warehouse workers need, Gehr said. "The technology certainly gets better all the time, but it's at a level where it's highly effective," he said.