I’ve always advocated, that the progress of any nation can be gauged by the efficiency and adaptation of technology by its shipping and courier companies. With the mobile / Internet age now at high-noon, how are our shipping companies fairing up?
Let me start reverse, the best out there is TCS, then perhaps OCS and then everyone else. But that is unfortunately where the good of it all ends.
Even in developing countries (Sri Lanka is an example, Maldives is another), the technology available at the walk-in center of any courier company would outshine its Pakistani counterpart many lumens over.
I still do not understand why consumer based packaging and labeling still not provided to the consumer. First of all, there is a ridiculous requirement at TCS (since I haven’t walked into OCS / Leopard in a long time, I cannot say, but I am assuming they are also playing follow the leader). Coming back to the stupid requirement. They need to see the envelope that I am sending ‘unsealed’ (I understand security concerns but ???)
Everything you bring there has unsealed (read: opened). Once the security guy checks it – only then will they allow you to close it.
Just to play a prank, one of these days, I will send a courier to the CEO of TCS, in a letter filled with talcum powder, which easily could have been anthrax. That would be the ultimate definition of a loophole in security.
Anyways, ask TCS for bubble-packaging sheets – and chances are they will stare blankly at you. The list is quite large…
• Security checks are a joke.
• You cannot transport a laptop – and the insurance premium is 8% (true as of 19th July, 2009, as indicated by TCS Shahrah-e-Faisal branch).
• No courier service offers tapes for sales, various sized boxes, packaging material, strong box material, tear-proof sheets, etc.
• Labeling material is not provided for.
• No courier company offers downloadable software for businesses to generate their own labels for the outgoing mail
• Bulk checking against their system is not offered, i.e. if a business has sent out 100 letters using the courier company’s software (let’s assume it is available), then there is no way to check in bulk from the software itself, the status and delivery confirmation.
• SMS based confirmations still not offered by industry. At time of booking a cell number can be taken, and you can be notified when your parcel/letter is signed for and delivered (this is such a simple application).
• 2D bar codes if generated by the client cannot be read by any courier company, albeit from what I hear Speedex is doing trials on this – rumor? I don’t know. The source is shallow.
• Peanut packaging material is not available.
• Insurance rates for high-value items is very high.
• Delivery updated are far and long.
For small industries to survive or even e-commerce based shops to thrive, sending small (volume sized) pieces of shipments in an effective manner is still something to be achieved.
I personally asked some website owners who are operating fantastic local e-commerce stores, if they had their trust in the courier service. None of them responded positively. They so much so had to rely on stocking in different part of the country and use their own runners, etc. for effective delivery services.
Another thing the courier companies can look into are mobile phone with cameras, and phone that allow 3rd party apps to be written for them. With cellphone cameras, you can take a snapshot of the bar code, have it read by the app written on the phone and then text this in a compressed manner to the central site, this is perhaps the fastest way to acknowledge that a parcel has been picked up or delivered. Even with the unreliability of SMS, apps exist to make sure the full-circle of communication takes place (for example if confirmation code is not received by the phone, it will try again) and vice-versa.
Courier services have been broken down to the basic functionality that of the post man. Try a package delivery and then see the ‘haalat’ in which it arrives at the destination. In FedEx you can get a FedEx envelope, various sizes boxes, tear-proof envelopes, tubes, etc. what does TCS or any other courier company give you in return for your postal needs?
What about 2nd day delivery or low priority delivery? None of it exists sadly. The courier companies sure need to get their act together and innovate, without which, we will see them as simply a replacement of Pakistan Postal Service.
One other point I must mention, as part of the courier companies grooming services, it must ensure that its employees wear deodorant. Because of the running around all day along in the field and sweating, wearing an anti-anti-perspirant / deodorant should be on top of their agenda.
We must realize the world in which we live in today moves two things: atoms and electrons. Atoms being the physical goods and electrons being the electronic Ones and Zeros on our digital infrastructure. We have adapted the electronic highway very well and are continuing to improve life on it. However, we still need physical goods, in order for us to become more efficient as a society on the whole, we need to remove inefficiencies and the stale-progress graphs and innovate and implement cutting edge technologies within our daily fabric. Failing to do so, will result in a totally disparate nation with two economies, the super-efficient digital economy and the super-inefficient physical economy.
For our futures sake, I hope we can hammer some sense into these courier companies, logistic companies and shipping companies.