DPD Group's Claire Nicolas on the challenges and opportunities facing traders

Wed 7 Jun 2023
Posted by: William Barns-Graham

DPD van

At the Institute of Export & International Trade's (IOE&IT) Export Reception in February this year, IOE&IT executive editor William Barns-Graham spoke with Claire Nicolas, head of international development at DPD Group UK, about the the opportunities and challenges facing UK traders in 2023.

1.How are you supporting your customers with their international trade requirements and the challenges it poses for them?

We understand that international trade compliance can be a complex and challenging area, and we are committed to helping our customers navigate these challenges so they can adhere to regulations and remain competitive in the global marketplace.

Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, so we prioritise proactive and regular communication on this topic. It is paramount for us to provide our customers with early notification of any upcoming changes and the potential impacts on their business and operations. This approach enables our customers to plan and adjust their strategies in a timely and efficient manner.

Last year, we launched a dedicated international website aimed at educating our customers about the fundamental aspects of exporting, as well as inspiring them to explore new markets and discover opportunities they may not have been aware of previously.

This website is designed to provide our customers with valuable resources, insights, and guidance to help them navigate the complexities of international trade and expand their global reach. Our commitment to empowering our customers through education and inspiration underlines our dedication to their success and growth in the international marketplace.

We also have a team of dedicated international account support and development managers who work closely with our customers. This team is focused on providing the logistics expertise necessary to help them navigate customs complexities, identify the most efficient shipping routes, and reach their target destinations. We understand the critical role we play in our customers' supply chains, and as such, our team acts as consultants, working with their teams on developing their international expansion plans.

2. In regard to international trade and logistics, what are the major industry trends that you can see impacting the sector in the next couple of years?

There will certainly continue to be a greater focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility in logistics operations. Companies will be expected to adopt more sustainable practices and use greener transport options to reduce their carbon footprint. It’s a topic which has inspired a global movement that is driving real and lasting change.

As a market leader in parcel delivery and the largest parcel delivery network in Europe, it is a movement we are proud to be part of but it needs to extend beyond the decarbonisation of fleets and vehicles.

One of our core aims at Geopost/DPD is to be the international reference in sustainable delivery and to demonstrate this we have declared we will be net-zero by 2040 and we are the only global parcel delivery company to have this validated by the Science Based Target initiative.

We are transforming our business to embrace new technologies to make every aspect of our business more sustainable. From switching to renewable energy in our buildings and depots to investing in recycled packaging and maximising the reuse of as many materials as possible. As the industry continues to grow, the environmental impact of transportation and logistics operations has become increasingly significant and companies will have to adopt more new ways to reduce their carbon footprint and adopt more sustainable practices.

Another area of continued, growing importance is cross-border e-commerce. Its growth has been a major trend - not least accelerated by the pandemic. Although cross-border e-commerce presents attractive opportunities, it also poses several challenges.

These include compliance with customs regulations, additional costs such as taxes and duties, and longer shipping times. Businesses will have to be agile and courageous but exporting to new markets can create exciting additional opportunities for growth and help build resilience by diversifying their customer base, gaining a competitive advantage, and promoting innovation.

3. The government is putting a significant emphasis on the digitalisation of trade and customs processes. What impact could this have and what would you like to see from this?

The government's emphasis on the digitalisation of trade and customs processes certainly has the potential to streamline international trade and make it more efficient. We welcome any initiative that has the potential to decrease paperwork, increase transparency, expedite customs clearance processes, and reduce costs.

We would like to see continued collaboration between industry and government to ensure that the systems and processes put in place are user-friendly, secure, and compatible with international standards and that businesses are given adequate time to incorporate the processes into their operations.

Overall, we see this as a positive development that can help modernise and streamline international trade, but it will require harmonisation of standards and processes as well as increased investment in infrastructure and capacity building to realise its benefits globally. It’s an important topic which is why we are also actively investing in our digital capabilities to support our customers in this changing landscape.

3. Why do you think it’s important that companies like DPD are partnering with organisations like the IOE&IT?

We believe it's very important for companies to partner with organisations like the IOE&IT because it allows them to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in international trade and best practices, gain access to valuable resources and training, and importantly, network with other professionals in the industry.

For us, we have found the recent export events held at the Palace of Westminster particularly insightful and enlightening. At these events, the IOE&IT provides a great forum for exporters to meet with key contacts in both the private and the public sectors to discuss the topics of the day.

The connection between business and Government is a vital one to ensure that businesses have a voice in policy development, trade negotiations, and market access to help build a Global Britain.  We’re really looking forward to future events!