‘Digitalisation must be comprehensively integrated into business processes’
In an interaction with Salvi Mittal of Express Computer, Prasad Dhumal, Vice President – IT, DHL Express India, highlights the digital objectives to enhance the customer and employee experiences
What does digital mean to DHL Express? What are some of your key initiatives?
We firmly believe that digital technologies play a key role in enabling efficiencies and driving growth for the logistics industry. Digitalisation helps in reducing costs by improving productivity, transparency, accuracy, and speed in shipment movements, ultimately benefiting customers. It is also imperative to ensure that the intent of embracing technology is to ease operations.
For DHL Express, our digitalisation objectives are to improve our customer and employee experience through operational efficiency.
MyDHL, an intuitive online shipping and tracking platform, which has been designed to suit the preferences of our customers. The platform is simplified and highly efficient and ensures that we receive accurate real-time data for shipment processing in our facilities for faster flight connections.
Another initiative to improve the customer experience includes On Demand Delivery (ODD), a service that enables shippers in India to give their receivers across the border the power to select from a range of delivery options.
DHL Express proactively notifies customers via email or SMS about a shipment’s progress and at the same time, allows receivers to select from a range of delivery options that best suits their requirements via the On Demand Delivery mobile-optimised website.
From an industry standpoint, the Express Cargo Clearance System (ECCS) was jointly developed by Indian Customs and Express Industry Council of India (EICI). The deployment of the ECCS has been introduced at Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru airports and this enabled us to progress from the archaic system of paper-based customs clearances. This has ensured faster shipment clearances, greater transparency and accuracy. ECCS links shipment data and its physical movement at the clearance ports via handheld barcode scanners, thereby enabling transparent real time shipment tracking through the entire process of customs clearances. Additionally, it eliminates the usage of paper in the process.
Not long ago, the industry saw the introduction of reforms such as the GST and E-way Bill. When these reforms were announced, we worked well in advance to help our customers prepare for the changes and to ensure compliance, right from day one. In fact, we were among the first in the industry to be GST-ready. We worked closely with our Finance, Operations and Commercial teams to re-design our systems and proactively guided and supported our customers through the initial days when there were teething issues.
We continuously focused on improving our Electronic Shipping Solutions (ESS) capabilities for our customers’ benefit and today, we are proud to report that 98 pw of our shipment data have been migrated to electronic platforms. Our ESS tool provides customers with a very simple and easy interface to submit GST, Courier Shipping Bill (CSB) data in time for regulatory-compliant shipment movement and export clearance. This data also helps customers in claiming discounts and benefits as per different export government schemes. This is how we leverage technology for customer benefit, while complying with local regulations.
When it came to the introduction of the E-way Bill, we introduced a semi-automated process where data could be extracted from our ESS solutions and uploaded on to the E-way Bill portal easily.
Every new reform is a challenge in itself for businesses across industries. With the introduction of reforms such as GST and the E-way Bill, we have had to revisit and revise some of our global IT systems and processes to incorporate provisions of the new reforms.
What are some of the IT capabilities developed by DHL Express to optimise operations?
By leveraging our global and local expertise, we are constantly exploring ways in which we can incorporate best IT practices into our operations. Some of the capabilities we have introduced include:
- Our solutions like CSB V and Webservice help in supporting GST and E-way Bill related data elements for the convenience of our customers and internal operations
- Our Sales CRM (COMET) on Mobile for sales executives helps them plan their sales meetings and update it online without opening their laptops
- Latest Android scanners for couriers to capture real-time shipment status such as pickup and delivery. We have also installed Radio Frequency (RF) scanners at our service centers and gateway facilities for shipment processing
- We have developed web services and plug-ins for our online B2C customers for seamless data exchange between the systems
- An internal employee social networking mobile application – ‘AsOne’ that helps employees connect with each other across the company. Access to colleagues and information within the system is the key purpose of this application
- The HR processes are now online and automated, including performance management, leave management, Mediclaim process, payroll, recruitment process, learning and development process, etc.
- We provide an online invoice download option via our Ezybill tool for our account customers
- We automatically provide softcopies of critical documents like Bill of Entry (BOE) and Duty Invoice required by our import customers for their internal processing ahead of shipment arrival at their doorstep
How are you leveraging advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics?
At this point in time, our priority in India is to stabilise the ongoing digital initiatives like GST, E-way Bill, ECCS etc., as they are very critical from the regulatory compliance perspective. We will soon turn our focus on more advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, which are currently being studied for feasibility in various functions. We also need to be mindful about the viability of these advanced technologies in India before implementing them.