Logistics company DHL is owned by the German organisation Deutsche Post, the world’s largest logistics supplier with over 480,000 employees worldwide.
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It specialises in express delivery of mail and parcels around the world, but also has operations targeting particular supply chain sectors including fashion, automotive and healthcare. You’ll no doubt have seen its distinctive yellow vehicles around, but what services does DHL offer and where does the company originate? We’ve put together a guide to tell you all you need to know about the business and its operations.
In today’s connected world where more and more items are ordered online, having the ability to track deliveries is essential, both for the sender and the end customer.
DHL’s tracking facility allows both senders and recipients to easily track the whereabouts of a shipment via the internet. It offers businesses an eTrack facility, which can be used to track up to 50 express shipments at any time via any email-connected device including smartphones and tablets. This means that even for businesses, where employees are on the move between sites, it’s easy to track the location of packages containing the components or documents they need to carry out a particular task and ensure that they arrive in the right place at the right time.
For the sender, DHL ProView is able to provide automatic notifications via text or email as each stage of the process is completed, when packages are picked up, delivered and so on. Senders can opt to have these notifications sent to other people too, so that customers or field operatives, for example, are kept in touch with the status of a delivery. You can add a number of different accounts to ProView, each protected by a PIN so that you can ensure only authorised people have access to the information.
There’s also an ExpressSMS service that lets mobile phone users track a shipment by simply texting the waybill number to 07720 33 44 55, they then receive an instant status update on the shipment by return text. Alternatively SpeedTracking allows a parcel to be tracked from any phone, mobile or land line, using a combination of voice recognition and touch tones. SpeedTracking also allows you to enter your mobile number to receive confirmation of the shipment status. SpeedTracking is available via the main customer service number 0844 248 0844.
For important shipments of things like legal documents, there’s an electronic proof of delivery option available. This lets the sender get delivery details, including an image of the receiver’s signature that can be downloaded, printed or emailed for compliance and audit purposes. This proof of delivery information is usually available to the sender within an hour of delivery being made.
DHL Express Service
Whether you’re shipping domestically or internationally, DHL’s Express Service offers a range of shipping solutions. Within the UK for example, you are able to opt for delivery by 9am, 12 noon or by the end of the next business day. If there’s less urgency, economy services that don’t guarantee a specific delivery time are available too.
For export packages that have to get there in a hurry, it is possible to opt for emergency shipping. Using this service, the package is placed on the next available flight and delivered in the shortest possible time. As with domestic deliveries, specified time services are available when shipping to some countries too, the options available vary depending on location.
To make life easier, when sending consignments overseas, DHL will help you take care of the complexities of international trade. It has experts that can help you complete customs paperwork and deal with any duties and taxes that may arise from the shipment.
As an added bonus, DHL is the only courier company that offers you the opportunity to earn Nectar points on your shipping services. You can use the points earned to reward yourself or your staff or donate to charity.
DHL Parcel Shipment Prices
Obviously the price of shipments varies considerably depending on the size and weight of the package, where you’re sending it to and how fast you want it to arrive. Sending small packages in the UK for next working day delivery, starts from £20, rising to £31.95 for delivery before noon or £55.90 for delivery before 9am. Cheaper options are available if your delivery is less urgent.
International deliveries are priced by zone, all countries falling into one of eleven zones. Pricing for worldwide deliveries is complex, but you can download a rate card from the DHL website showing you which countries are in which zones and allowing you to look-up the cost of a shipment, depending on its size and how fast you want it to arrive.
Of course, it is also possible to simply go onto the DHL website and enter details of your package to get an instant shipping quote. For most people this will be the easiest way of working out the price of a shipment and you can go straight on to place the order via the website. You can even order packaging materials whilst you’re there, making it a one-stop destination for sending items anywhere in the world.
Note that the price of delivery services is subject to VAT, so you’ll need to take this into account when looking at the rate card.
DHL Global Mail
In addition to carrying packages and larger items, DHL also offers a Global Mail service. This allows you to send business mail such as statements and invoices, marketing material like brochures and catalogues, and printed publications like magazines.
Global Mail offers the convenience of a single product for all destinations worldwide and easy accounting with a single bill for all of your mail. Extra services like franking, tracking, customs clearance and return of undeliverable items are available too.
There’s also a Global Mail Packet service for smaller and lower value packages that fall outside of the items listed above. This is a convenient, affordable solution though there are restrictions on the size of package you can send as mail. Shipments must be under 2kg in weight, with a total length + width + height not exceeding 90cm. Larger or heavier than this and you’ll need to use the standard DHL Express service instead.
Global Mail Packet Plus offers a broadly similar service but with the added benefit of tracking to most destinations worldwide. With both services, insurance options are available to protect your package in transit if required, and customs clearance is made easy thanks to the use of postal services.
If you’re running a large mailing or distribution operation and the standard mail services don’t meet your needs, DHL can help you build a customised solution to meet the needs of your business.
You can sign up via the DHL website for the Global Mail Observer newsletter. This is aimed at keeping you up to date with events such as natural disasters that may affect the delivery of mail to different parts of the world.
DHL Service Point
For people who want the convenience of being able to send a parcel without having to wait around for a courier collection, DHL offers over 1,200 Service Point locations within the UK. These are located in high street stores including branches of WH Smith, Ryman, Staples and Homebase, as well as many independent stores.
You can pick up a free DHL envelope or box, then simply pay for your shipment in the store. This has a number of advantages if you’re not a regular sender, as you don’t need to have an account and most locations are open seven days a week. Pricing is simple too, being based on the size of the box or envelope, with no need to weigh or measure the package in store.
If you’ve missed a delivery, you can arrange to have your package delivered to a Service Point so that you can collect it at a time that’s convenient to you. You can find your nearest Service Point simply by entering your postcode on the DHL website.
The MyDHL service makes the company’s services simple to use for those with internet access. It’s available free for all DHL Express customers and is ideal whether you make occasional shipments or are a business with regular sending needs. Once you’ve registered for MyDHL, you’re able to arrange shipments online with just a few clicks. You can also easily track DHL Express shipments and set up status alerts so you know what’s happening to your package at each stage of the process.
The big advantage of MyDHL is that it gives you a single sign on that you can use to access all of your DHL express services. You can pay via your business account or with a credit card if you’re an occasional user and not an account holder.
All you have to do to start using the service, is register via the DHL website. You’ll then receive an email asking you to activate your account – you must do this within 24 hours. Once activated, you’re ready to start using the services.
Once set up, your MyDHL profile allows you to customise your preferences, so that you can ensure any communications you receive from DHL are relevant to you and your needs.
It’s always annoying if you’re not in when a courier turns up with a package and you return to find a card on the mat. Fortunately, if it’s a DHL delivery, there are a number of flexible redelivery options on offer to make sure that you get your package as quickly as possible.
You can opt to have the package redelivered to the same address on a different day so that you can be sure someone will be there to receive it. Alternatively you can have it sent to a different address where you know there’ll be people available to sign for it – your office for example or a neighbour.
A third option is to have your package delivered to a local DHL Service Point so that you can go and collect it at a time that’s convenient to you.
Whichever option you choose, you can arrange for redelivery of your package quickly and simply through the DHL website.
DHL IntraShip & ProView
DHL IntraShip is ideal for use by companies that send large volumes of packages. It can be set up and customised to meet your business’ specific needs and processes and integrate with your existing systems. You can import data from your own in-house systems, manage shippers in different locations and control online approval processes. It can handle the full range of DHL services covering definite days and times so that you can be sure that it’s flexible enough to meet the requirements of even large businesses.
The batch import of shipment addresses from your business system reduces the chance of making mistakes. It also gives you better visibility of the shipping processes across your business, ensuring not only more efficient deliveries and happy customers, but also compliance with record keeping and audit requirements.
Even if you’re not a major customer, as long as you have a DHL Express account, you can register to use the ProView service. This easy-to-use online tracking service, gives you the option of receiving automatic notifications at each stage of the shipment.
You can opt to have messages sent by email or SMS messages to whomever you specify, even your customer. This assures that the right persons are always aware of what is happening with a package and helps reducing the amount of problems that could occur.
If you already have an account with DHL, registering for the ProView service via the website is a straightforward process.
DHL App for Smartphones & Tablets
The business world is increasingly relying on mobile technologies that cater for the needs of a busy, on-the-move workforce. DHL customer can make use of the company’s smartphone and tablet app to manage the shipments.
Available for download free of charge for use on Android and iOS devices, the app lets you track your packages using the phone’s camera as a barcode scanner. You can get an overview of your shipments including time of delivery and other information. There’s a price calculator feature as well, which lets you easily work out how much a package shipment is going to cost.
The app gives you the option of contacting customer services by Facebook or Twitter or by using an interactive chat facility.
DHL started out in the United States in 1969 as a courier business set up to deliver bills of lading from San Francisco to Honolulu so they got there ahead of freight shipments. It was started by Larry Hillblom along with his partners Adrian Dalsey and Robert Lynn – taking its name from the initials of their surnames. The business gradually expanded its operations as an air courier operation around the globe over the next decade, focussing at first on international traffic. This resulted in it becoming one of the first truly global logistics providers and branching out into other forms of delivery.
The success of other logistics companies in the US, however, led to DHL expanding its own services to deliver packages within the US mainland in 1983. Much of the company’s worldwide growth has come from providing delivery services to countries that weren’t well served by other providers, including Iraq, Iran, Vietnam and North Korea. Currently being German based means it can avoid embargoes imposed on US companies on deliveries to countries like Cuba and North Korea.
Deutsche Post began acquiring shares in the DHL business in the late 1990s, completing its takeover of the company in 2002. This led to the launch of a ‘new’ DHL made up of the old company plus the old Danzas and Securicor Omega Express businesses, which is effectively the company we know today. The new red and yellow livery and logo came into use in December 2002. Expansion of the business has continued since then, however, with DHL making a number of acquisitions.
DHL invested 120 million euros in the Indian delivery company Blue Dart in 2004, making it the major shareholder in the business. In 2005 it acquired Excel plc, which includes the Tibbett and Britten group, formerly the logistics arm of the Unilever business. In 2007, in a joint venture with Lufthansa, DHL started a new cargo airline called AeroLogic, based at Leipzig airport close to its European distribution hub. In total there are now five airline subsidiaries of the DHL Express business.
Today DHL is a truly global business, covering more than 220 countries and territories. It has four major distribution hubs, 250 dedicated aircraft, 31,000 road vehicles and over 40,000 service points allowing it to serve more than 2.7 million customers around the world.
As well as the courier and postal services, it’s best known for global freight business capable of handling everything from a single pallet to a full container. DHL’s supply chain business offers full supply chain management services covering warehousing, distribution and managed transport for businesses in a variety of sectors from retail to health care.
The Williams Lea subsidiary offers marketing, document management and correspondence handling solutions. These are aimed at companies, lawyers and other businesses that want to outsource these operations to allow them to concentrate on their core businesses.
DHL’s global headquarters is in Bonn, Germany, with its European delivery hub based in Leipzig. It has a US HQ in Florida and Far Eastern operations in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, making it a fully global company.
It’s a successful company too. Deutsche Post DHL made an operating profit of 2.86 billion euros in 2013, on revenue of over 55 billion, at the same time achieving an improvement in operating cashflow. As a result the parent company’s 2014 AGM agreed to pay a dividend of 0.8 euros per share, an increase of 0.1 euros over the previous year.
A strong performance in the third quarter of 2013 saw DHL post an almost 14 percent earnings improvement, leading operating profit to increase to 489 million euros – up from 463 million in the same period of 2012. The company puts this performance down partly to improved efficiency, which has allowed it to overcome the negative effect of currency fluctuations.
The Mail division saw its revenue grow by 3.4 percent in 2013 partly due to an increase in demand for delivery of advertising materials.
For the future the company expects to see growth in its international business. Capital Investment in the last year has been focussed on the Asia Pacific region and the Middle East and Africa where demand for delivery services is growing fast. In 2014 DHL Express expects to expand its resources and further invest in both fixed and mobile infrastructure.
In order to reduce its environmental impact DHL is planning to switch 50 percent of its delivery van fleet to run on compressed natural gas in order to reduce emissions. In 2007 it also became the first courier company to transport cargo using a wind powered ship, the MS Beluga Skysails. By 2020 the company intends to improve its CO2 efficiency by 30 percent compared with its 2007 figure.
DHL has been very active in sports sponsorship, particularly in the motorsport arena. It was the main title sponsor of the Jordan formula one team in 2002 and continues to sponsor the Porsche RS Spyder Le Mans Prototypes in the IMSA American Le Mans Series. In addition DHL sponsors Ryan Hunter-Reay’s IndyCar Series car for Andretti Autosport.
It’s involved in football too. In 2011 the company signed a four-year deal to sponsor Manchester United Football Club’s training kit. It’s also the main sponsor of Bohemian FC in the League of Ireland.
Outside the area of sport, DHL is the official logistics provider to a number of fashion weeks around the world and, along with IMG Fashion, sponsors the ‘DHL Exported’ programme, aimed at getting young fashion designers to achieve recognition outside their own countries. The programme sponsors selected young designers to attend major international fashion shows to display their work. DHL is also a major sponsor of Surf Life Saving Australia, an organisation dedicated to promoting water safety.
The company supports a number of charitable initiatives too, in particular the Disaster Response Teams project which has a worldwide network of over 400 volunteer logistics experts. These can be deployed to a disaster area within 72 hours in order to get relief supplies moving quickly and efficiently by taking over airport logistics. In 2013 DRT volunteers were deployed to Chile following forest fires and to the Philippines after the typhoon.
DHL Jobs and Careers
As a worldwide company and a leader in the field of logistics, DHL is a major employer and as such offers a wide range of career opportunities. All its employees are encouraged to take on responsibility and fulfil their potential via a range of training and education opportunities.
The company offers programmes for students looking to gain some initial professional experience whilst they’re still studying. It also runs an apprenticeship scheme for school leavers, allowing them to have a long-term career whilst also studying for professional qualifications.
For people who have a degree, there is a range of graduate programmes and internships available with DHL. These too offer the chance of further education and continuing professional development to ensure you make the most of your talents.
A wide variety of operational and support jobs are offered by DHL, whether it’s drivers on the road to staff working in warehouses, ports or airports. The company is committed to giving its employees the opportunity to improve their skills and gain additional expertise. It has an on-site training programme as well as its own online learning portal to allow employees complete flexibility in training and development.
Of course a range of management careers is offered as well. The company runs a Global Executive Leadership Programme to give managers the opportunity to work across the different divisions of the business and develop their leadership skills. Again, DHL’s online learning portal is an important part of the career development process. A mentoring programme where employees are supported and given individual coaching by experienced managers has been put in place.
Details of the jobs currently on offer at DHL are always available on the company’s website.
DHL Contact Details
Whether it’s for a tracking enquiry or some other issue, DHL can be contacted via its website or by calling the customer services team on 0844 248 0844. Phone lines are open six days a week from 7:30am to 10:00pm Monday to Friday and 8:00am to 4:00pm on Saturdays and bank holidays.
The number can be used for the SpeedTracking service too.
Should the tracking service not work, our support team and the support team of the shipping companies would gladly help you.