DHL Adding Workers, Robotics And AR To Support Record Holiday Sales

  • December 4, 2017 at 4:45 PM EST
  • By Andrew Gaffney
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Ramping up to address a forecasted volume growth between 15% and 40% this holiday season, DHL is hiring an additional 6,000 seasonal workers across its four business units in North America. The expansion is designed to support DHL’s contract logistics, fulfillment, freight transportation and express delivery operations, including additional flights, as well as piloting new warehousing technologies that leverage robotics and augmented reality to increase productivity.

The expansion is aimed at addressing the record sales from Cyber Monday, as well as changing expectations of online shoppers. “To help our retail customers in the U.S. meet the demands of online shoppers for greater transparency, convenience and speed, we have to balance increased capacity with improved efficiency and to offer flexible omnichannel solutions,” said DHL eCommerce CEO Lee Spratt.

Spratt pointed out that while the majority of shoppers want free shipping, they also want flexibility and transparency in tracking and receiving their packages. To provide increased options for last-mile fulfillment, the company’s DHL Express unit has partnered with USPS for weekend deliveries and is working with Uber and additional couriers on same-day delivery options. The DHL Express online B2C business has shown 25% year-over-year growth.


To help ensure the delivery process is convenient, DHL has developed On Demand Delivery. These are web-based tools that are now fully deployed in the Americas, designed to simplify the shipping and delivery process for retailers and their customers. The On Demand Delivery application provides SMS and email messages to keep receivers informed of estimated delivery dates, and allows shippers to select which delivery options are presented to receivers.

To better understand customer trends and challenges this holiday season, DHL recently surveyed more than 100,000 U.S. customers and received more than 1,400 responses. The results showed that retail brands will not only be challenged to meet rising consumer expectations, but also could face challenges of a labor crunch and a tightening of freight capacity between Asia and U.S.

“U.S. retailers’ success for the entire year can hinge on sales and supply chain execution over the last eight weeks of the year,” said DHL Supply Chain President for Retail Jim Gehr. “With fast-changing consumer habits, rapidly increasing volumes and a tight labor market, we see significant potential for new technologies, such as robotics and augmented reality, to drive productivity improvements within our customers’ supply chains.”

DHL executives emphasized that global expansion is providing new opportunities but also is adding complexity for retailers, citing projections that cross-border e-Commerce will grow 2X faster than domestic markets, rising from $300 billion in 2015 to $900 billion in 2020. “Cross border e-Commerce growth continues in the U.S. as consumer demand for overseas products increases, driving both our imports and exports,” said Travis Cobb, DHL Express SVP, Network Operations.



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