Couriers moving into wider supply chain roles: survey

WASHINGTON — The makeup of players in the global supply chain is changing, according to a new survey  released this week.

The survey, conducted by the Messenger Courier Association of America (MCAA) revealed that a significant number of messenger courier companies are moving into roles as key players in the global supply chain, a dramatic shift from their previous role delivering letters and packages.

“This survey verifies what we’ve been hearing from our members: that participating in the growing need for global deliveries has kept them viable and successful,” says Chris MacKrell, president of MCAA.

He said the majority of the association’s members — 53 per cent of them, in fact — say their businesses are doing better than a year ago.

“An important component of that success is the industry’s shifting role as a key player in the global supply chain,” he said. “That contrasts with the old-fashioned view of our industry as one consisting of mom and pop companies delivering letters.”

Survey results bear this out. Over the past few years, MCAA members have increasingly migrated towards handling larger freight. Seventy-one percent of survey respondents now offer expedited freight delivery and ninety-five percent are making use of cargo vans. Less than fifty percent of members needed pickups or vans in 2007, according to a previous survey of members by MCAA. Forty-two percent of members surveyed this year have seen an increase in larger freight deliveries.

The shift is supported by increasingly sophisticated technology. “State-of-the-art technology is a requirement to manage the ever more complex coordination of the delivery of shipments globally, nationally and regionally,” says MacKrell. “Seventy-five percent of respondents told us that their communications’ systems were integrated into their business systems and ninety-three percent accept orders via the internet. An increasing number (24 percent) are able to capture data directly from customers’ websites.”

Other key findings from the survey are:

* An overwhelming majority (84 percent) depend on independent contracts to meet the need for on-demand deliveries.

* Most (57 percent) offer national and regional service

* Members expect two key factors to figure heavily in their continued success: new service offerings (45 percent) and the revival of the economy (60 percent).

* The key industry sectors served by the expedited business are medical, banking, pharmaceutical high-tech, pharmaceutical, 3PLs, and government.

* Experience counts in this industry. Most members (53 percent) have been in the expedited delivery industry for over 20 years.

Survey findings will be highlighted at MCAA’s upcoming Last Mile Forum Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

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