FedEx positions Clark for surge in e-commerce

Published January 25, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

FedEx, the world’s leading logistics provider, said that its Clark Gateway is in a position to address the surge in e-commerce globally as the state-of-the-art facility has three times the capacity of the current Manila Gateway.

In an email interview, FedEx Express Philippines Managing Director John Peterson said Clark Gateway, expected to open its doors in June 2021, is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies that will increase sorting capabilities to 9,000 documents and parcels per hour.

“This is three times the capacity of the current Manila Gateway. The Clark facility will also have dedicated areas to process large heavyweight freight,” said Peterson.

 “Clark Gateway has sufficient space and capacity to process bulk shipments and large items over 150 lbs, significantly augmenting our capability to meet the retail freight needs of our customers,” he pointed out.

But Peterson noted that FedEx began to put this gateway in place even before the surge in online transactions because “We recognize the potential of e-commerce for our SME customers and how we can leverage our networks to provide our customers access to international markets.”  

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So far, FedEx enjoyed robust business in 2020 adding freight capacities across operations, including Philippines, with flights growing by almost 50 percent, amid the pandemic and the implementation of health and safety protocols.

Peterson said the company increased its flight operations to and from our APAC Hub in Guangzhou, North Pacific Hub in Osaka, and South Pacific Hub in Singapore.

“To support our customers in the Philippines, we increased freight capacity, adding extra section flights via Clark,” he said adding that flight operations between Asia and Europe grew by almost 50 percent in April.

The logistics provider also experienced further upswing in flight operations in May and June as a result of manufacturing and businesses reopening across AMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

During the lockdown, Peterson said they suffered shortage in manpower for its Manila Gateway.

“The team in Clark volunteered to take on the task to ensure sufficient manpower to serve the needs of our customers,” he said.

 Peterson further said that FedEx never stopped operating during the lockdown, but quickly adapted to deliver commerce and aid in a timely manner. It also helped that they have their own cargo fleet.

“Our extensive global and local networks enabled FedEx to flex and make quick adjustments to meet changing needs. At the beginning of the pandemic, we swung into action delivering medical aid, 42,000 tons of PPE including 1.8 billion masks, equipment and more across the globe, collaborating with NGOs and governments,” he added.

According to Peterson, the Clark Gateway is the latest in a series of investments that FedEx has made in the Philippines and across Asia Pacific.

“There are several factors we see in the Philippines that encourage our continued expansion. First and foremost are our team members. We now have over 700 in the Philippines. Especially during the pandemic, their dedication to our customers and the FedEx business has been second to none,” he said.

Another favorable factor for Clark is its central location and scalable transport infrastructure as crucial when it comes to logistics and distribution. Moving our Philippines gateway to Clark will enhance our ability to serve customers across the country, given the expansion of Clark International Airport and a 24/7 Customs clearance and PEZA operation.

“The Clark Gateway increases flexibility and efficiency for businesses based in the Philippines in a number of ways,” he said. For one, it offers extended cutoff time for customers in Northern Luzon and Cebu while ensuring that their shipment departs on time.     

Deliveries in Northern Luzon will be earlier by two hours on average.

Clark Gateway’s enhanced sorting system and facility will handle 9,000 documents and parcels per hour.

The global growth of e-commerce is largely due to the rapid shift to online shopping brought on by the pandemic. And this is especially true for the Asia Pacific region which will take lead in e-commerce boom.

Notably, Peterson said the pandemic also accelerated the “digital tipping point” for many of its customers, which have ramped up their digitization efforts and are now strengthening their contact-free capabilities.

These efforts include improving their online presence, streamlining their supply chains and making transactions more convenient for their customers. 

“Some are converting their brick and mortar locations into fulfillment hubs for their online stores to keep up with the rise in direct-to-home deliveries and curbside pickups,” he said stressing that businesses that have successfully digitized and improved their online presence are set to benefit from the exponential growth of online shopping.

For the Philippines, Peterson cited a steady demand for Philippines exports, which include agricultural products like fruits and nuts, medical equipment, and electronics. 

More shoppers are buying hard-to-find items internationally using e-commerce platforms.  This trend opens up opportunities for small players with niche or specialized products. This resulted in a .2 percent increase in merchandize exports in September on higher demand for electronics, fabrics, textiles, furniture and basketwork.

FedEx also improves the convenience of its customers by incorporating tech into our products and services and having drop-off stations in various locations throughout the country.

Customers can easily ship out their items by visiting an authorized FedEx ship center, available at over 500 locations in the Philippines.

SMEs are able to meet their customers’ “new normal” expectations through contactless options we’ve had in place for years at FedEx.

Businesses that are making the shift to online retailing are using FedEx Web Integration Solutions to enable their customers to confidently book and track their items directly from the website.

Meanwhile, the company also offers smoother customs clearance for those aiming to increase growth through cross-border trade, through FedEx Electronic Trade Documents.

Customers can enjoy an additional dimension of ease through services like FedEx Delivery Manager which customizes delivery times and locations; and SenseAware which enables customers to track sensitive, high-value shipment (such as vaccines) in real time.

“The e-commerce wave has encouraged Filipino SMEs to look outside the Philippines for their recovery. There are growing opportunities for businesses to explore cross border trade as shoppers outside the Philippines are now going online to find items that are not locally available,” he said.

“We make it a point to work with SMEs in their expansion goals, budgets, and cross-border trade strategies.”

Meanwhile, Peterson revealed that its collaboration with eCFULFILL, a Philippine Tech Startup that helps MSMEs sell their products on the global marketplace, is bearing fruit.

This single-platform solution removes the many layers that businesses are required to go through before exporting and provides them with an easier route to go global.

With this solution, local businesses can sell their products through various e-commerce platforms around the world just as easily as they do in local online market places.

To date, eCFULFILL has reached over 7,000 orders with over 800 product listings across different countries, leveraging the scale and network of FedEx.