Why is DHL such a terrible company

DHL & Co .: Industry is working on the delivery forecast for parcels

While the market leader DHL is not quite that advanced in parcel tracking, one company has already made more progress in forecasting. But the planned breakthrough will probably only take place in ten years.

The parcel boom continues, Germans are ordering more and more clothing or electronics on the Internet. If you want to receive the goods at your front door, you have to plan waiting time - because the delivery time windows are still quite large. That should change.

The principle of hope is omnipresent when ordering packages. The hope that the shipment will arrive reliably - and that the deliverer will ring when you or at least your neighbor is at home. High investments by the parcel industry should now mean that recipients don't just have to hope, but know exactly when the parcel delivery service will be there. Whether Deutsche Post DHL, DPD or Hermes - they all want to improve their predictions. It pays off for you: If the forecast is precise, the first delivery rate increases and employees lose less time with the delivery.

Time window is determined by many variables

As of today, the parcel industry in Germany relies on more or less rough time windows of one to twelve hours. Why actually? The deliverers drive similar routes every day - and the data evaluation including traffic forecast is getting better and better in the digital age. But it's not that simple, say experts. "It's a very complex matter with many variables," explains Frankfurt logistics professor Kai-Oliver Schocke. "If there are traffic jams or diversions, the driver will find a parking space, where exactly how many parcels have to be handed in - and how long does it take under these conditions until the next delivery? - Such questions cannot yet be answered reliably and precisely."

Christoph Stehmann from the industry service provider Pitney Bowes sees it similarly. The customer finally wants to have a smaller window of time so that they no longer have to wait so long at home, and the industry is working on progress. "But nobody has found Columbus' egg yet." One possibility is more transparency - that the recipients can see where the deliverer is on the Internet. "Sounds good, but it can be very confusing," says Stehmann. Because even if a delivery vehicle is already nearby, it can still take a long time before the doorbell rings - because the deliverer has to deliver parcels to neighboring houses or take a break beforehand.

DPD as a pioneer

Relatively far ahead on the subject is the German subsidiary of the French Post, DPD. The end customer first receives an e-mail from her with the information that the package is now in the depot and that it will be delivered the next day - without a time window.

There is another e-mail on the delivery day itself - around eight in the morning, when the deliverer has loaded his van and the best route has been determined based on the parcels on board. The end customer is then given a time window of one hour, which drops to half an hour over the course of the day. Is the prognosis right at all - or will the parcel carriers come later? According to DPD, less than 10 percent of the parcels are delivered later.

Forecast and interaction are added value

In addition, recipients can see where the DPD employee is on a map on the Internet - not on the basis of GPS, but on the basis of the scan of the last consignment handed over. This location transparency is "more of a gimmick", admits a DPD spokesman. Because the location is not too meaningful - after all, the end customer is unclear how many stops there are still to his front door.

"The real added value is the forecast and the interaction," he says. Interaction means the possibility of sending a message to the deliverer up to 15 minutes before delivery of DPD parcels, for example that you are not at home after all and that the parcel should be placed next to the door. Competitor UPS offers similar options and relies on a four-hour time window.

DHL and Hermes would like to give a more precise time window in 2020

The market leader, Deutsche Post DHL, is not quite that advanced when it comes to tracking - that is, parcel tracking including delivery forecast. The time window is still two to four hours, an update as with DPD has not yet been carried out, and there is still no live tracking or interaction with the parcel carrier. But it should get better. "For 2020 we have decided to communicate a more precise time window to our end customers," says a DHL spokesman. In the first step there will be a 60 to 90 minute time window. In addition, the idea is being pursued that those waiting are informed about the delivery 15 minutes in advance.

At Hermes, the delivery period for standard parcels is 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - that is, the whole day. However, the Hamburg company is also working on improvements and is relying on new software. In the meantime, half of the Hermes shipments have an e-mail the day before, including a two to four-hour delivery window. This communication with the customer will be "intensified" in 2020, announced Hermes. The delivery will be more transparent and more precisely tailored.

Breakthrough expected in ten years

Despite the progress: The parcel industry prefers when customers rely on alternatives to door-to-door delivery, i.e. parcel shops or automated pick-up stations. Because as precise as the delivery window may be - it is not certain whether the recipient will be at home.

Industry expert Stehmann has subdued expectations when it comes to precise delivery. Only in the long term - probably in about ten years - will there be a breakthrough when road traffic can be planned using automated cars and new delivery methods such as drone flights arrive on the market. When asked when the parcel delivery service will arrive, logistics professor Schocke relies on his own experience. "When my family has ordered something, DHL always comes by at a quarter to two." The messenger is reliable - even without a digital delivery window.