The rise of e-commerce in airfreight: behind the scenes

As we gear up for the busy Q4 season with events including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Singles Day, we sat down with Ashwani Nath, Global Head of E-commerce at GEODIS, to find out more about the increasing demand of the online shopping market, how your parcels safely get from A to B, and IAG Cargo’s vital role in working with GEODIS.

Tell us about your role.

Ive been with GEODIS for close to nine years now, and Ive got 37 years of experience in logistics. My current role started about four years ago, when the company decided to move into e-commerce solutions. 

My job was to find the most productive solutions that customers would look for in the future and design new solutions to support and launch those. Currently Im the subject matter expert for our business units which are executing these products.

Why is e-commerce so important at GEODIS?

We have a strong backbone in logistics – its our 2PL, 3PL and 4PL services. The first refers to international freight forwarding, air cargo, sea cargo and customs clearance. Then 3PL refers to warehousing and road transportation, and 4PL is the supply chain optimisation. 

With these logistics, we realised the demographics and patterns in e-commerce were changing – especially for the younger generation due to digitalisation and social media. More and more of our existing brands and customers moving with us in the B2C space will have bigger requirements in the future. This will be in parcel delivery, last mile and overall customer experience. 

What impact did the pandemic have on e-commerce?

Before Covid, there were still a lot of people who werent interested in online shopping. But when stores were closed, we were all pushed in the direction of e-commerce, as it was convenient and, in some cases, the only option. 

The clients catering to this market had to engage with the digital demand. The solutions were often localised, regionalised, then grew to a continental level. The logistics channel had to fall into place equally as fast to ensure they could deliver.

What changes did you make during this major increase in online shopping?

Our core logistics services continued to support our business. For us, the effects of the pandemic on e-commerce highlighted all the possible challenges that we were going to face in the future anyway. We are now ready for those challenges, so with the feedback we received, we tweaked what we needed to and continued to improve our solutions. 

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Will e-commerce keep growing? 

At the moment, theres been a reduction in e-commerce by about 20 to 30 per cent, which can be explained by multiple factors. Firstly, now that physical stores are open again, people are rushing into the shops, so they can enjoy the full experience including touching & feeling the products. 

Secondly, the supply chain disruptions with the Suez Canal, the war in Ukraine, and factories in lockdown had a huge effect. However, we cannot forecast what will happen in the future. Its extremely volatile now with stagflation. The demand is definitely there though, and will grow. 

What are the future opportunities for the e-commerce market? 

For the consumer, its freedom of choice. Lots of people want to experiment and buy boutique products rather than only items from known international brands. The e-shopper wants to find out what the quality and variety is like from start-up companies as well. However, all companies big or small, are having to rebrand and alter supply chain to cater to the new demands of the changing market. 

The market has also changed for logistics providers, now that they have different demands from the brands, who are asking to enter new markets from the US or Europe. Online marketplaces offered a solution for this and did a great job, as they were already in the position to deliver to these new markets. Whereas logistic companies werent at the time. But thats now evolved and changed. 

How does GEODIS work with IAG Cargo?

We work very closely with IAG Cargo, especially in our freight forwarding division. IAG Cargo is a great partner for us as they have the cargo capacity that we need, as well as being reliable in delivering on time for international transportation. 

Whatever business we generate from our e-commerce internationally, we facilitate it internally through our freight forwarding division, which then reaches IAG Cargo for the airport-to-airport transportation, which is a key element of the delivery process. 

How do you ensure a flawless online shopping experience?

E-shoppers expect perfection – from the checkout process to transit and delivery to their front door. After doing some research, we discovered e-shoppers didnt follow through with their purchases due to finding flaws in their shopping experiences. 

There were several reasons this was happening, including complicated checkout processes, slow delivery, as well as discovering hidden fees and high shipping prices. To meet the customers’ needs, we made a door-to-door process that was easy to use without hidden or high costs. This is why we give complete transparency with the duties, taxes, shipping fees and surcharges. 

What measures do you use to make sure e-commerce is shipped on time? 

Shipping on time is vital in building trust with customers. We have technology so everything is digitalised and can be tracked by the customer. For the transportation process, we arrange customs clearance, airport-to-airport transportation, as well as pickup and delivery to the destination. 

Everything is carefully monitored and all of it is done by us, so there cant be any miscommunications, unexpected fees, or problems along the way. Its all essential in creating the best customer experience possible.

If you would like to reach out to Ashwani his email is:

Need to get your products to customers across the world with speed and efficiency? IAG Cargo can help. Find out more, here.