The growth of the Internet, SMEs and direct distribution has suited the integrator model as customers invest in eCommerce to increase their market reach. The cost of creating an online presence is low, and together with affordable global shipping, even a small company can deliver to multiple customers worldwide at minimal cost.
eCommerce typically leads to more sales in smaller quantities, particularly at the start-up phase or during the beginning of international expansion. Integrated Air Express is the ideal mode of transport for this, as it is fast and cost effective.
Integrators have realized a huge opportunity in increasing the weight profile of their competencies from, for example, an average of 2.7kg in 1992 to over 6kg today. A contributor to this has inevitably been the trend toward reduced inventory levels, driven by improved demand forecasting, just-in-time and lean manufacturing practices and companies’ focus on cost efficiencies. This benefits time definite delivery services, which allow companies to reduce the order-to-delivery time in their supply chain and therefore store less buffer inventory.
Despite structural changes (ie increased use of electronic communications) that have reduced the growth prospects for document shipments, the express industry is still seeing stable growth in document shipments, driven mainly by the continued shipping of physical banking, legal and insurance documents and marketing materials. Additionally, there has been a substantial increase in non-document shipments, driven in part, for example, by the production of smaller technology products.
In recent years, strict security requirements together with noise and emission issues have further raised barriers to entry. There is now a requirement for closer integration with national security and customs regulators, as well as quieter, more modern and fuel-efficient aircraft.
Emerging markets continue to be important drivers of growth in world trade. The integrators are uniquely positioned to both support and capitalize on growth in trade flows to and from emerging markets, thanks to their global footprints (and also thanks to the fact that air express services are often used more prevalently in markets where road and rail infrastructure is less developed).