In the first half of 2017, Swiss Post generated a profit of CHF394m (US$411m), compared with CHF313m (US$326m) the year before, representing an 21% increase year-on-year. This was driven by improved results in the financial services market, ongoing efficiency measures, and the restructuring of its post office network.
While the post’s traditional businesses remain well-performing, it is also resolutely ‘future-facing’ with its growth strategy. The impressive range and innovative nature of the new products and services Swiss Post has launched in the past year, combined with its sound business performance, goes some way to explaining how it topped this competitive category.
Customer-first innovation Dieter Bambauer, member of the Swiss Post executive management team and head of its PostLogistics division, says the customer is at the center of all the post’s projects: “Our customers’ needs have changed. They are getting more digital, more mobile and more individual. So, we respond with services that have flexibility, personalization and speed that use the new technology and developments available. The projects often aim to link the physical and digital worlds, based on market need.”
The projects and partnerships announced during this year show how Swiss Post’s customer-centric approach is resulting in innovative and useful new products and services. In February, Swiss Post upgraded its digital services for customers to provide a series of inflight parcel delivery options, including selecting the day and time of delivery or redirecting to another address or safe place.
This was followed by the launch of a car boot delivery service, which enables Volvo owners to have their LeShop purchases delivered straight to the boots of their cars in several Swiss cities.
Then in March, Swiss Post began trialling a drone delivery service, which transports lab samples between hospitals in Lugano, southern Switzerland. The post aims to introduce a regular service in 2018. The same month, Swiss Post announced a partnership with communications specialist Swisscom to develop Internet of Things applications for the postal sector. The applications will use a common low-power network available to both companies and eventually third parties. In May, SwissID, a standardized digital identity, was launched with Swiss Federal Railways. A standardized identity is a central milestone for further digitization in Switzerland.
In June, Swiss Post continued to diversify its services with the launch of its My Local Services app, a digital sales channel linking local businesses, event organizers and municipal authorities in a ‘virtual village square’. July saw it announce that another region of Switzerland, Aargau, had signed up to its e-health service, which provides secure electronic patient records and other services for the healthcare sector. Then in August, the post revealed that its e-voting system, introduced at the end of 2016, had been certified for use by up to 50% of voters in Switzerland. Finally, toward the end of the month, Swiss Post started testing Starship Technologies delivery robots in Zurich city center, delivering goods ordered online from department store Jelmoli.
Despite the focus on digital diversification, Swiss Post still values its core mail and parcels business and constantly seeks to optimize them. Earlier this year, it purchased 13 Culler Facer Canceller (CFC) automated mail sorting systems from NEC Corporation to sort mail and small packages. It also plans to build three regional parcel centers at a cost of around CHF150m (US$156m) by 2020.
Swiss Post spends around CHF400m (US$416m) per year in developing its infrastructure and new services. Bambauer is keen to state that it receives no support from the Swiss government. “We have to be competitive on the free market,” he says. “If we don’t innovate to provide a service, someone else will.
Claudia Pletscher, head of development and innovation at Swiss Post, says the company plans to apply more autonomous technology in its core business, such as the use of robotics in sorting centers. “Our projects are all very close to our core business. They are in addition to existing services. We are not replacing any, but evolving them,” she says. Next year, Swiss Post plans to continue investigating the use of technologies such as augmented reality – smart glasses that are used in the sorting process – and the Internet of Things applications within the context of smart cities. “We actively prepare for the technology trends of the future as our projects mentioned above demonstrate. We are not passively sitting still, but embrace digital transformation and its chances for our business,” Pletscher adds.
“We try and think in both the long and the short terms when considering progress. The small innovations and improvements put into action quickly are just as important as projects that are linked to technological opportunities and social developments that will take years to bear fruit,” she explains. “So, we are happy and proud to win this award. I think it shows we are on the right path, to make our customers’ lives easier and provide them with more choice.”
Service Provider of the Year Shortlist:
- Deutsche Post DHL Group