Chain Reaction is Sourcing Journal’s discussion series with industry executives to get their take on today’s logistics challenges and learn about ways their company is working to keep the flow of goods moving Here, Vijay Ramachandran, VP, go-to-market (GTM) enablement and experience at Pitney Bowes, discusses how the company is helping its retail partners improve sustainability and rethink return strategies.
Name: Vijay Ramachandran
Title: VP, GTM Enablement and Experience
Company: Pitney Bowes
What are some of Pitney Bowes’ latest initiatives?
Pitney Bowes is a global shipping and mailing company that provides technology, logistics and financial services to more than 90 percent of the Fortune 500 companies. Our growing global e-commerce business comprises nearly half of all company revenue and has expanded significantly. In fact, we have grown from a single service and client in 2012 to providing fulfillment, delivery, returns and cross-border services to more than 450 enterprise and mid-market retailers, e-commerce marketplaces and logistics services providers today.
Furthering our growth, Pitney Bowes launched Designed Delivery, Returns, Cross-Border and Fulfillment services, introduced new regional delivery services in select U.S. markets and expanded cross-border and domestic delivery services to Canada last year. Our new offerings aim to make e-commerce logistics easier, with national, international and regional shipping services that are flexible, modular and purpose-built to each client’s needs.
When it comes to creating efficiencies, there are quick wins and longer plays. What are a few things your company is doing to help its partners succeed on both fronts?
When it comes to quick wins, Pitney Bowes is focused on helping its partners rethink returns strategies. This includes thinking about how the return options you make available to customers drive specific behaviors. For example, home pickup is great to offer (and free if using a postal return provider) to create a sense of convenience and optionality for the consumer, but it doesn’t drive significant incremental returns because most high-frequency online shoppers don’t have home printers to create shipping labels.
For a longer play, we encourage retailers to think seriously about their Canada strategy. It’s the easiest market for U.S. brands to expand into. But how do you go about selecting the right partner in a country where you have limited experience? To combat this issue, we recently launched the Designed Delivery, Returns, Cross-Border and Fulfillment service in Canada, which offers a multi-carrier delivery solution with a single-carrier experience.
What is the one thing brands and retailers could be doing to make better use of technology to improve logistics?
Look at regional distribution. Several carriers—including Pitney Bowes—offer regional delivery models that allow you to carve out certain population corridors to serve at rates lower than standard ground shipping from national carriers. This allows retailers to find the optimum balance between cost and reliability.
What areas of logistics aren’t receiving the industry attention it deserves?
Major carriers are eliminating direct relationships with many of their shippers, working through platforms and third-party logistics (3PLs). As a carrier that prides itself on our best-in-class account management and consultative approach, we feel validated that this is increasingly an underserved need in the market. The e-commerce logistics landscape is getting more complex, so retailers need to have carriers who understand their business and are flexible enough to design services around specific needs and abilities.
What is your company doing to make the movement of goods more sustainable?
Sustainability isn’t just good environmental policy, it’s a business imperative. Our BOXpoll surveys found that Gen Z and millennials—who consistently cite climate concerns as a top political issue—are also more concerned about the environmental impact of their online orders than older generations.
Pitney Bowes is helping its retail partners meet their sustainability goals by meeting our own high standards. We have pledged to be carbon neutral by 2040 through efficient use of energy in our sites and throughout our transportation fleet, increased use of renewable energy, responsible packaging and more.
Are you optimistic about the state of supply chains in the next few years?
The pandemic was like a 100-year flood for the e-commerce logistics industry. It changed how consumers, retailers and vendors think about what matters when buying online. We’re only now starting to figure out what Covid-era behaviors are sticking around, and which are still being redefined as we tackle a challenging macroeconomic environment. It is an unbelievably exciting time to be part of this industry and to play a part in rewriting the rules from the ground up.