A visit to PostExpo in Hamburg this week, the world’s largest and leading conference and exhibition for the postal, parcel and courier industry, can at first seem like a step back in time. It’s a reminder that the world of mail is still alive and well, with booths for everything from electric post vans, lightweight bags and trendy uniforms for post men and women from Austria to Uzbekistan!
But what comes over most notably is that globally, the express parcel market is roaring ahead. That’s because you and I, with our one-touch Amazon Prime account, and habit for impulse purchases are sending the express parcel industry through the roof. Almost every session I attended showed the same line graph – surface letters and mail on the way down, and ecommerce driven parcel deliveries on a steep growth curve. One such session was with the Director General of China Post – his numbers were startling – that more than 17 billion items will be delivered annually in China by 2020, and the total value of ecommerce purchases in that country alone will be over $1 trillion in the same year.
But significant challenges remain. Not only does the underlying CEP infrastructure need to keep pace with this rapid growth, address data needs to improve. Time after time I heard speakers bemoan the difficulties in getting addresses right, and deliveries made first time, and in large parts of the world, there simply isn’t any good quality postal address data from the national post authorities.
Various start-ups are working hard to support growth in India, Africa and the Middle East to create new, proprietary addressing systems, and a number of encoded offerings have emerged, such as Google Plus-Codes, What3Words and others. But what will ultimately meet the challenges of hard to address places? While these are challenging the industry with PR-driven news stories, do they lack the experience to truly address the unaddressed?
On the opening day of the conference, I was invited to address the audience on that topic, and advanced the theme that location intelligence data – or the blending of multiple locational data items, would start to create the needed levels of granularity to resolve these issues. When we look at the results of the recent Forrester Report on location intelligence in the digital age, and see that 77% of business believe that location intelligence data will be a critical component of customer experience in the next 3 years, and that more that 60% of consumers are happy to share location data to enjoy an enhanced online experience then it does reinforce our strategy.
With over 3,000 people visiting the event over the 4 days, it's clear that Loqate has a huge opportunity to continue to bring our leading address capture, cleanse and geocoding solutions to this growing, global market, and as we accelerate our innovation to meet the needs of not just these hard to address places, but also making customer experience even more frictionless, our future looks very exciting indeed!