Interview with Washington Rojas, Servientrega
Ahead of the World Mail & Express Americas (WMX Americas) Conference in Miami, we caught up with Washington Rojas, Operations Manager at Servientrega. Washington will be speaking at WMX Americas 2019 and offers his thoughts on the conference and the future of the industry.
This interview was originally published on Post&Parcel in December 2018.
P&P – Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company.
WR – I am Washington Rojas from Ecuador. I have two bachelor’s degrees, one in Telecommunications and another in Computer Systems; a master’s degree in Education & Administration and I am currently pursing a master’s degree in Supply Chain Management at Florida International University. As an entrepreneur, I founded an IT Services Company, owned a UPS franchise, and since 2010, I have worked at Servientrega International, first as IT Manager and now currently as the Operations Manager.
Servientrega International is the U.S. branch for the group Servientrega, the largest express company in Colombia and Ecuador, with a presence in Panama and Peru as well. We have export operations to all of Latin-America, focusing in four markets:
- Family/Personal: shipments with a network of 40 locations around the US
- Commercial Parcels: parcel shipments for U.S. companies to their Latin-American customers
- E-commerce: Receive and process the shipments for direct sellers and marketplace sellers that sell in sites such as “Mercadolibre” or “Linio”.
- Mailboxes: offer a “buy” address to our customers to receive their U.S. orders and ship to their residence in Latin-American
Our service DDP includes all the export process in the US, air shipment, customs clearance and last mile delivery. To be compliant and give a customize service to our partners and customers, we are in the process of migrating to a world class ERP System.
P&P – What will you be speaking about at WMX Americas this year?
WR – Generally, a seller in Latin America marketplaces such as Mercadolibre or Linio buys its products in the U.S. from Amazon, Ebay, Walmart, Bestbuy, etc. The products are delivered to a U.S. address where they are processed and shipped to the destination countries. The final customer expects fast delivery and a onetime charge (the price must include international freight, insurance, duties and taxes). These requirements can be a daily challenge for the seller and the international operator, which requires a very deep collaboration between both sides to succeed. We will share the best practices that we have acquired in 7 years of handling this kind of operations.
P&P – What do you hope our delegates will take away from your presentation?
WR – In today’s competitive world, the mail and express companies must look for synergies and cooperation to improve their supply chain. We hope that sharing our best practices can be the beginning of a network that can help each one of the delegates to improve their process and services.
P&P – What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing your business today?
WR – The customs clearance in each country is a challenge and a risk. Our customers want a simple DDP solution that helps them calculate the final price of their products. This plus the illegal but unfortunately enticing practice of “leap” customs drives customers away from us, challenging us every day.
In this “customer centric world” we need to adapt to our customers special needs because these “customizations” give us a market advantage. Handling these customizations complicates the normal production lane and provides complication towards automation.
P&P – Who are you looking forward to meeting at this year’s conference?
WR – Find parcel partners that look for cooperate, improve and create new services; technology companies that can give solutions for automation of the parcel classification.
P&P – Apart from the presentations and content, what aspect of WMX Americas are you most looking forward to?
P&P – How can we advance the post and parcel industry?
WR – Share our best practices, working together in expand services taking advantage of the strengths of each operator in their countries, because our customers are looking for a global coverage using an easy system. Participate actively in the standardizations committees of the industry.
P&P – How has the post and parcel industry changed in the past 5 years? What do you predict will happen in the next 5 to 10 years?
WR – E-commerce has changed the industry completely in the last 5 years: new services, infrastructure and business models. This tendency will increase exponentially in the next years, as Jack Ma quoted that a future trade will take the form of parcels instead of containers.
P&P – What is the biggest challenge in the post and parcel industry at the moment?
WR – The “free shipping” concept gave a bad idea for the final customers that underappreciate the services that the mail and express companies give every day. Plus, the “2 day” or less promise deliver make a lot of challenges between satisfying the customers and generating reasonable profitability to the business.
P&P – What are the most critical changes that we must make to face the future effectively?
WR – Improve the last mile delivery, reduce the time and paperwork of the customs clearance
P&P – What effect has BlockChain made on the post and parcel industry?
WR – The blockchain can be a big step in the track & trace operations for the industry, we need to define the common norms quickly.
P&P – What is the most interesting trend for 2019?
WR – The investment and development of electric truck fleets for new companies as Workhorse, Tesla, Nikola and giants such as Daimler, Ford, VW and GM plus the initial deployment of these fleets for UPS, DHL and Fedex.
P&P – What’s the one piece of advice would you give to companies starting out in your sector?
WR – Our customers use the Internet more and more, you have to begin with a very robust platform that can give on time information for quoting, shipping and tracking.
P&P – What impacts do you foresee from President Trump’s American Made policy and / or the recent US China trade wars?
WR – The “tsunami” of Chinese parcels around the world generates an unfair competence for international sellers, local producers and courier operators. If more countries put pressure to China for a fair trade and an open market, all can grow and compete internationally with a brilliant future to our industry. But if the trade war is limited only to US-China the actual status quo will maintain and the imbalance with China will continue around the world.
P&P – The Trump administration has made no secret of their plans to invest heavily in US infrastructure. Do you think we’ll see the investment shortly and what impact do you think it will have on the post and parcel industry?
WR – Yes, perhaps in mid-2019 because with this, the administration can create a lot of jobs and give a great jumpstart for the re-election. The initial impact for our industry can be a slight increase in the volume because these projects take years, only when they are finished, we can see an improve in the delivery times, if the ground deliveries in the U.S. can be reduced by one day the impact will be huge all the economy.
P&P – What impact does the failed renegotiation of NAFTA have on logistics across the Americas?
WR – Our express industry is very much affected because the de minimis of Mexico and Canada stay low. If the 2 countries had the same de minimis of the US ($800) the parcel and ecommerce trade could have grown a lot. Our industry needs to adapt to the new rules and give simple solutions to our customers.
P&P – As the gig economy takes hold in Latin America – what impact will disruptive startups like Chazki, Logiety, Gurucargo and others have on traditional logistics operators and what can they do to survive?
WR – The impact can be very disruptive as we can see with Rappi, a unicorn that have a valuation of one billion dollars without having a big logistics infrastructure, because, like Uber, utilize the equipment (motorcycles) of their associates. They capture a promissory market (food delivery), offer innovative solutions (rappifavor: walking the dog, make a deposit in the bank) and now offer solutions for the last mile delivery. To survive, the logistics operators can begin to offer similar solutions taking advantage for their know-how and infrastructure or as a second option buy the start-ups an incorporate their best practices in the organization.
Washington will be speaking at the World Mail & Express Americas Conference 2019. WMX Americas is taking place at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay (10 – 12 February 2019). Visit www.wmxamericas.com for more information.