DHL Freight unveils threat to TNT Express

DHL Freight has announced a new “premium less-than-truckload service” called Eurapid. This will offer a day-definite service for consignments from single packages to 2.5 tonnes.  The service offers same-day pick-up for shipments booked before 12pm as well as “full end-to-end visibility and simple rate cards”. The service will be available in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, with other countries becoming available in the future.

The service will use DHL Freight’s existing ‘less-than-trailer load'(LTL) infrastructure. However, it is not known what IT provision is being made to deliver both visibility and customer order tracking. Presumably, this will be more sophisticated than the existing LTL and full-truck load systems. DHL Freight were not able to answer more detailed questions from Transport Intelligence, however the press released mentioned a dedicated “customer service team” as well as the “DHL Activetracing smartphone app.”

In terms of market focus, DHL mentioned the technology, fashion and apparel sectors as potential customers for a service that offers higher frequency and reliability. Yet, delivering on that promise will not be entirely straightforward for DHL Freight. The company is heavily reliant on transport sub-contractors who will have to be drawn in to the more sophisticated systems environment that ‘Eurapid’ implies.

DHL Freight appears to be specifically targeting customers within the market that over the past few years have moved down from high-service level air/road express markets and into cheaper, less responsive exclusively road-based services. This trend has been most graphically seen within TNT Express- although many other Express operators have also been affected. TNT Express has been driven down the value chain into less profitable, lower service level provisions as customers have sought to reduce their costs and TNT Express has been forced to adapt. The inevitable danger of such a development to TNT Express was that other LTL operators would see their opportunity and exploit their low-cost base to grab some of the express day definite business now within their grasp. It would seem this is what DHL Freight is trying to do.