DHL announced to grow the parcel locker network from c. 8200 today to 15 000 until the 2023. This is a clever move from DHL to optimize its operations and profitability. As the last mile accounts for 60-70% of the total parcel delivery costs, saving the ways to the door steps of the customers could be a step change in delivery costs. Typically the operational costs are less then half for locker deliveries compared to door delivers. Baiting the customer with the environmental friendliness of the delivery to a parcel machine and increasing the convenience with increasing the parcel locker density might persuade the customers.
However environmental friendliness and the achievable cost savings are heavily depending on the customer journey DHL will provide to its customers to move them to a "parcel-locker-first" customer. If they are successful in that, this will be a game changer in the German market and might make it even more difficult for Hermes, DPD or other to gain a competitive edge.
Especially as they cannot leverage the synergies from the mail and parcel network, like combined delivery or also utilizing the parcel lockers in the future as digital post agency (as currently piloted) to fulfill the universal service operator requirements to provide a dense agency network. This allows DHL to pay less value added tax for end consumer parcels.
But also for customers this might have a significant effect and might also impact future ecommerce growth. If DHL will continue to dominate the market further and might push competitors out of the market, ecommerce growth might be reduced as DHL will determine terms and conditions and decide what you can successfully sell via the web and what not. Last month DHL already announced to increase prices for parcels above 20kg significantly (which are typically also not best fit for parcel locker). This makes it harder to become profitable for e-commerce retailer - for example pet supplies web shops are already struggling under their high fulfillment costs. These contribute up to 20% of their total cost and an additional price increase for parcels might result in an exit of the German market or it will result in prices increases for consumers. Both is not favorable. This is specifically true for small and medium players, as Amazon (with Amazon logistics) and to some extent also Otto (with Hermes) just operating their own parcel network.
Therefore consumers, eCommerce players and politicians should carefully observe how DHL will leverage the gained parcel locker advantages to avoid any further deterioration of competition as it already has a dominating market position.
But also DPD, DHL, GLS or UPS needs to get prepared to optimizing and investing in further operational excellence and start repositioning themselves as they might not win this battle on lowest production costs with the current set-up.
"Von aktuell 8200 Packstationen wollen wir bis Ende 2023 bei mindestens 15.000 sein"