Cheaper, More TLC, and Same Speed - Yamato's Edge over DHL and Other Couriers

Japanese private courier Yamato does not have a monopoly on express delivery of small packets to Asia - the likes of DHL and FedEx have their own planes and operate their own hubs to do just that. So what makes Yamato so confident against DHL, FedEx, and one-time and long time joint venture partner UPS?

The quality of service? Prices?

15,900 yen vs. 6,450 yen
DHL has over 30% market share in the Asian international express courier market. Anything they pick up from Japan can be delivered on the following day at most Asian destinations.

Put it in a standard box where each of the dimensions (height, width, and depth) is less than 30 cm, and DHL will charge you 15,900 yen per shipment.

If you gave a 10 kg parcel with the sum of the three dimenstions being less than 100 cm to Yamato as a business client based in the Kanto area, you will pay 6,450 yen.

If the lead time is the same, that is a significant price difference.

Up to now, such price competitiveness has been the domain of posts and EMS, but EMS is a "deferred service" and will take 2 to 7 days... PLUS, a 10kg EMS parcel to Asia ia 10,200 yen!

How did Yamato manage its rock bottom prices?

Even for next day delivery, Yamato will not change its operations and will use ANA for the line haul to keep costs down. DHL has its own fleet based in Narita International Airport, Kansai International Airport (Osaka), and Chubu International Airport (near Nagoya), and hubs out of Hong Kong.

In the Nikkei Marketing Journal article, Yamato has revealed that items collated at the Rakuten logistics facility or collected in the Kansai region will depart on the 0:00 flight out of Haneda (Tokyo) to Naha, or the 0:05 flight from Kansai International Airport (Osaka) to Naha, Okinawa.

The former arrives at 2:35 am and the latter at 2:10 am.

After clearing export customs,
a 3:20 am flight to Shanghai will take the goods and arrive at 4:25 am.

a 5:15 am flight to Hong Kong arrives at 6:50 am.

a 6:25 am flight to Taiwan arrives at 6:55 am.

With these arrival times at destination, delivery within the same day or next day from arrival is possible.

Japan Post uses a range of carriers from JAL to ANA to other airlines, and goods depart from various gateways directly from the Honshu Island, and not Okinawa. The delivery at destination is by their postal counterparts with intra-postal rates in Asia determined through bilateral agreements on a commercial basis as EMS is not part of the "universal service obligation" which designates the right to communicate by mail a universal service that a country must guarantee to all its citizens at affordable prices. Yet, sadly, Yamato has the competitive edge on pricing (though restricted to business customers).

Applying Japanese Standards in the Way Parcels Are Handled
In Asian cities, it is common for a single vehicle to be operated by a single driver to keep costs down. But the standards applied to the handling of parcels can be quite lax, with throwing parcels into the back of a truck being the norm.

"Even global couriers are rough compared to the way Japanese couriers handle packages," says a logistics consultant interviewed by the Nikkei Marketing Journal.

Yamato Broke Ground in International Perishables Deliveries
DHL has not yet commenced delivery of food items from Japan to other Asian destinations, which gives Yamato an edge.

Japan Post and Singapore Post as well as Japan Post and Hongkong Post have teamed up to follow suit, but tests do not commence until April 2013.

Yamato and other Japanese couriers are far behind DHL, FedEx, UPS, and TNT in terms of international expansion, but they are tackling it in a very different way and may very soon become serious forces to be reckoned with.

Related article:
Fresh Seafood Direct From Japan to HK - Chilled and Frozen Shipments in 1 to 2 Days

22 March 2013 Nikkei Marketing Journal Cover story