Shreyas Kulkarni

“B2B e-commerce to grow by 70% in next six years”: Sandeep Juneja, DHL Express India

The vice president of sales and marketing talks about the burgeoning cross-border e-commerce.

Say, you run a young e-commerce company for bucket chairs and have decided to accept orders from across the world. Soon, you receive your first order from Spain. That’s great news, but then come the questions: How do you ship it? What are the custom requirements? Should you add the customs duty to the product? Such questions about the last-mile service, or delivery as people call it, are bound to throw anybody off their chairs.

“Logistics is the biggest part of the cost component in e-commerce… if not done properly, or without it, e-commerce can't exist,” says Sandeep Juneja, vice president of sales and marketing, DHL Express India.

Having worked with the leading packaged delivery and mail company for nearly 17 years, he knows a thing or two about logistics, which, he says, gets quite complicated when it’s “cross-border e-commerce”.

Sandeep Juneja
Sandeep Juneja

Juneja cites the example of India, which has fewer borders today because of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), but before it, “when you went from one state to another, you needed entry permits, specific documentations…”

Last month, DHL released a global ad campaign. It details how DHL helps e-commerce businesses keep up with the clicks; as more and more people shop online, the number of buyers (or clicks to buy), is getting harder to keep up with.

“Until last year, cross-border e-commerce was growing at more than 25 per cent every year,” Juneja states. This poses both challenges and opportunities for businesses.

He believes his company is the much-needed “force multiplier” for these e-commerce businesses. One can reach “1.2 lakh destinations in 220 countries,” thanks to DHL, without having to worry about the documentation, duties levied, and other hassles a business may face during international delivery. Why? The brand takes care of it.

DHL began its India journey in 1979 and services 35,000 domestic locations now. “There are businesses that earlier dealt with middlemen. Now, they deal directly with the customers, and because we are present in these locations, we're able to connect these people to the world,” Juneja asserts.

He goes on to talk about DHL‘s infrastructure as the definitive differentiator between it and its rivals, when it comes to servicing e-commerce clients.

“We've large self-owned gateways (terminals) at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bangaluru airports. The Bengaluru one is 1.2 lakh square feet”… It's a big place, where DHL builds its containers, does 24x7 customs clearance, and loads its own aircraft. The planes that fly into Delhi and Bengaluru connect DHL to Asia, Europe, and the US.

He says India competes with the likes of “Vietnam, South Korea, and China” for being a global sourcing hub. The government’s Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme has spurred “big mobile and TV manufacturing, and setting up of manufacturing plants in India,” which is then sold across the world via cross-border e-commerce.

The Indian diaspora leads the way as far as recipients go. Juneja talks about a customer, who ships 1,000 sarees a day to Indian women across the world, and also the rise in purchase of photography equipment from India… “From a B2B perspective, engineering and manufacturing, automotive, technology, textile, and pharmaceuticals stand out.”

“Over the next six years, B2B e-commerce is going to go about 21 trillion, which is 70 per cent more than what it was in 2019.”

On the lack of a region-specific ad campaign, Juneja says, “If I am sponsoring (IPL team) Mumbai Indians, I will make an Indian commercial. But if I am talking global e-commerce, I think, symbolically, we should do a global campaign so that people can recognise it is cross-border e-commerce.”

Towards the end of the ad, we see an e-commerce shipment that has the DHL branding on it. But if the clients want their branding, and not DHL’s, isn’t that a loss of branding opportunity? Juneja says, “I can’t be over the top, I have to be meaningfully involved with the customer. When people receive, Your shipment is arriving through DHL messaging, my shipper and buyer gain confidence because it is DHL… it is meaningful.” This is the kind of work he focuses on.

With so many orders going through DHL, every hour, this is what Juneja has to say about data. “We have a ton of data. We use it to only fulfil our commitments to the customers… We're a GDPR-compliant organisation, and we take it and other compliances extremely seriously.”