For a long time, parcel delivery was an afterthought in most transportation operations. Then e-commerce came along, supercharged by the pandemic, and now parcel is the fastest growing mode of delivery. Parcel shipping’s explosion is creating both challenges and opportunities in the industry, especially for newspaper companies. What makes parcel delivery a good business opportunity for them? How can technology help them exploit this opportunity? What are some lessons learned to help newspapers succeed in the parcel delivery market?
Those are the key questions I discussed with Derrick Stanford, Vice President, Business Development at Postmedia Parcel Services (Canada’s largest newspaper publisher, with over 130 titles coast to coast), and Jason Fry, Senior Business Development Manager at RouteSmart Technologies, on a recent episode of Talking Logistics.
Why is Parcel Delivery a Good Business Opportunity for Newspapers?
What makes parcel delivery a good business opportunity for newspapers to pursue?
Derrick says, “It’s to increase revenue, and frankly, to survive.” He notes that they got the idea from hearing former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (who owns the Washington Post) present the concept at a conference. “It leverages the newspaper infrastructure and distribution networks that have been around for decades and has instilled new life and interest in using these networks for parcel delivery across the country.”
Jason points out that there are many similarities between newspaper delivery and parcel delivery. “The three advantages newspapers have is they typically have large local facilities, they have established distribution networks, and they are familiar with local communities.”
How Does Technology Help?
How can technology help newspapers expand into parcel delivery?
Jason explains that there are two factors that must be considered when doing parcel delivery. “First, what is the best delivery order sequence to distribute parcels or newspapers, and second, how do I best deploy my resources to deliver most efficiently. Those are the two questions [route optimization] technology can answer,” which companies can now access as a service using APIs.
Of note is that parcel delivery optimization is very different from truckload or less-than-truckload (LTL) optimization because (among other things) of the high number of deliveries per route. “During peak season, drivers make hundreds of deliveries in a short period of time, so even a small misstep in execution is reflected on the bottom line,” says Jason.
Newspaper Operations and Technology Benefits
I next asked Derrick how Postmedia uses technology in its delivery operations and the benefits they have achieved to date. Check out the short clip below for some insights:
“Brunswick News [Derrick’s previous employer, which was acquired by Postmedia] was a customer of RouteSmart and we leveraged their technology and Salesforce to build our distribution solution in-house…The driving force for the acquisition was to get their hands on the parcel business and the parcel technology we had built,” says Derrick.
Jason adds that since Brunswick News used commercially available software to build its parcel delivery solution, the learning curve for other newspapers to begin using the technology is very short.
I asked Derrick and Jason if they had any words of advice or lessons learned for companies that want to enter the parcel delivery market. They shared many insights, including how newspapers differentiate from “gig economy” delivery companies, so I encourage you to watch the full video for all the details. Then keep the conversation going by posting a comment and sharing your perspective on this topic.