Today, DHL is the largest international express delivery service. It carries over 1 billion shipments and serves millions of customers annually. With its integrated network of almost 45,000 offices, DHL is present in most countries of the world, delivering shipments to 120,000 global destinations. There are many specific features to DHL that make it the leader in the global express delivery market, including various customer services, such as track and trace, an organized hub system, and an efficient operations division.
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The track and trace service, which was introduced by DHL in 1986, was enabled by the use of barcodes on each parcel. This allowed for the logging of every shipment onto the system so that the customer could track its progress online throughout the journey. Being able to follow the shipment process gives the customer a certain peace of mind as it confirms that the delivery is going to be on time and as expected. Receiving up-to-date tracking information is also important for the customers in the B2B sector: If the shipment contains products that have to be sold on a tight deadline, the business can rest assured that the order will arrive on time. Another benefit for corporate users is the use of similar barcodes with only the end numbers differing for large sets of shipments, which makes it easier for the business to check several tracking numbers consequently. These features make track and trace service useful both for B2C and B2B customers all around the world.
DHL’s developed worldwide network consists of 238 gateways, 450 hubs, and over 72,000 vehicles. An organized hub system is essential for the company to optimize its operations and to ensure timely delivery of all shipments to various locations. Local offices send all the parcels received to regional hubs, which then sort and send shipments to either a regional sorting facility (local deliveries) or a gateway (remote and international destinations). Regional sorting facilities sort and distribute packages to local service centers, where each parcel is allocated to a delivery route. Couriers pick up packages for their route and deliver them to customers. Gateways, on the other hand, are both the ports of service for local offices and facilities for export to foreign destinations that have all the necessary resources to send and receive international shipments, including the possibility to perform customs checks on site.
In gateways, the operations of different types are clearly distinguished. For instance, at DHL’s Miami gateway, there are over 200 employees working in two shifts, morning and night. The morning shift starts at 4 a.m. and finishes at 3 p.m., whereas the night shift starts at 3 p.m. and ends at 12 a.m. With the majority of inbound aircraft arriving in the morning, the morning shift is focused on receiving the parcels and arranging them to be shipped to a regional hub for further sorting and delivery. The night shift, on the other hand, is for outbound operations. DHL’s Miami gateway services the countries of Latin America, so any shipments to those countries are brought to the gateway either from service centers or the regional hub. Each parcel undergoes on-site customs certification and the sorting process before it is dispatched to the destination country.
Overall, there are many features that contribute to DHL’s success. One of the most important factors is the company’s unparalleled investment into creating a global network that is equally developed in many countries to ensure better and quicker service worldwide. DHL also offers tailored services to suit the needs of a variety of customers while at the same time showing a great organization of labor as most parcels are picked up only 15 minutes after the customer places the order. DHL’s efficient operations, as well as its flexibility and responsiveness, distinguish the company from its competitors, allowing it to hold a firm leading position in the global market.