How a Digital Storm Will Disrupt the Parcel and Express Industry
It’s the year 2026, and you’ve just emerged from a tough earnings call with analysts. Revenue was down by 10%, and profits fell twice that. You tried to pin the blame on e-tailers’ price promotions for their delivery options, but the analysts didn’t buy it. They said you would just have to get used to fighting for share against these new rivals with all their momentum and tech buzz. What a comedown from the giant enterprise you remember only a decade ago. You shake your head and wonder, What happened to my industry? Digitization used to be a good thing!
It may be hard for executives in parcel and express delivery to imagine this scenario. Business is solid, with stable revenue in B2B and rising volume in B2C. The established companies—global integrators, postal companies, and regional deferred deliverers—all have formidable sources of competitive advantage, such as strong logistical networks and high-density distribution. They’ve spent decades building highly efficient operations and dominant market share. All of these assets provide them with well-protected strategic positions.
Yes, the news reports talk about delivery robots, driverless trucks, data-driven customer familiarity, and other amazing digital innovations. But these are individual trends that will benefit all delivery companies equally; how could they bring on a paradigm shift in the industry as a whole?
The answer is that these digital advances won’t just boost efficiency. They’ll also change the fundamental sources of competitive advantage, because they will not benefit all delivery companies equally. Unless the established companies adjust their strategies accordingly, they are likely to find their vaunted advantages a burden, or at least a dwindling asset. Their market power and margins may erode, until they wake up in a very different kind of industry.