DHL Supply Chain’s e-commerce division has launched a ‘mystery shopper’ programme for potential online retailers as part of its expansion in the e-commerce logistics sector.

Claire Lannou, EMEA VP of business development of e-commerce at DHL Supply Chain, told delegates at this week’s Reuters Supply Chain Europe conference in Brussels that, in preparation for discussions with customers who may want to use its logistics services, its team would place orders for goods with the retailer.

“When we begin the discussion, we have experience of placing an order with the brand, we have experience of the delivery, of the reliability and the returns experience.

“And this allows us to assess where a brand sits – customers often talk about service propositions, and we are then able to give advice based on our own experience of their brand and its e-commerce operation,” she said.

Ms Lannou admitted that clients had been surprised by this move.

“The point is that brands need to be challenged about what channels they are selling through,” she argued. “Selling on Amazon is a very different experience to selling through your own channel, and you have more control of the consumer’s experience.”

Ms Lannou also argued that the scale of contract logistics operators’ e-commerce networks allowed smaller online retailers to effectively compete on a global scale.

“Our customers benefit from the scale of our e-commerce operations – we have 1.5m sq metres of e-commerce space in Europe and a huge pool of knowledge and expertise that can be tapped into,” she said.

Currently, around 30% of the goods moved through DHL Supply Chain’s e-commerce operations are FMCG, and 60% fashion.

However, other verticals are expected to offer higher growth rates.

“Fashion and retail are very mature sectors online, but there are a lot of other industries with lots of potential – e-commerce is a huge pillar of growth within our organisation,” she said.

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