When I was a kid, I spent countless hours playing with my little trains and trucks. I loved my trains, but trucks were my favourite. I had a whole fleet of colourful branded vehicles and often dreamt that one day, when I grew up, I’d be a truck driver or even own a truck company. I never did. But my passion for logistics remained and was later reinforced by my curiosity for new technology. I soon realised that one can’t really go without the other. That efficiency in logistics can only prevail if using the best of both worlds. More than a trend, this has become a reality today, not to say a necessity.
In a world where the volume of retail e-commerce sales is predicted to reach $4 trillion in 2020, representing 14.6% of total retail spending (according to eMarketer), it is necessary for the processes to change and accompany the evolution of global trade. And it is not just the technology in people’s hands that counts. It is the unseen technology of smart algorithms and in-depth data processing that produce what consumers seem to most want: visibility and speed. We daily see how fast technology is improving. When a computer can beat a human champion player at Go, the Chinese strategy board game that requires intuition rather than sheer processing power to win, we have to acknowledge that the possibilities of technology are endless.
At ViaEurope, we believe that software has a role to play in solving the complexity of today’s e-commerce logistics. Shipping a parcel from one part of the world to another is complex for some, a nightmare for others. The reason is that most of the time, 6 to 7 companies will have a hand on that parcel, increasing transaction costs and leaving room for errors every step of the way. To prevent that from happening, from day one, the ViaEurope business model was built on a technology that connects all parties involved on a single platform. Our technology and data control allows ViaEurope to have clear visibility on processes which enables us to handle and Customs clear e-commerce cargo faster and more efficiently. Part of this technology includes what we like to call Customs 2.0, a smart algorithm that can determine the right TARIC codes according to the EU regulations.
Although technology can cover many things, a strong relationship with the airport, Customs and its partners remains crucial. We need a true partnership where data is shared because when we share, we are more efficient and the whole process is much faster. We are happy that both Dutch Customs and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol are geared towards smooth handling of e-commerce goods, because we believe that together we can make Amsterdam the e-commerce hub of Europe.
Of course, that does demonstrate the importance of building personal relationships as well. In the end, we still need the right people to continue to develop the technology, to form the partnerships that build up the trust that is vital to data-sharing, and to make the final delivery to the end customer. Just as we still need people to deliver the parcels to your home (for now) and colourful branded trucks, although we already know that in the near future, they will be driverless.