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How J&T Express Singapore plugs the hole left by talent shortage

Upskilling and automation help the logistics firm stay afloat.

Manpower is a crucial factor for the operations of any logistics firm. So, one can only imagine the apprehension felt by J&T Express Singapore when businesses around the globe faced talent shortages. In addition to trying to seek and bring in the right talent, the company also decided to look for a solution internally.

“[During those times,] we cannot expect to be able to bring in someone well-versed in e-commerce and logistics altogether,” Andrew Sim, Executive Director of J&T Express Singapore, told Retail Asia.

Instead, J&T Express Singapore tapped onto its existing employees and provided them with upskilling and training opportunities. In partnership with universities and tertiary institutions in Singapore, the company is also conducting programs to introduce students to the e-commerce logistics industry.

But Sim believes that this effort alone cannot overcome the manpower crunch. The answer still lies in automation. J&T Express Singapore, therefore, upgraded its sorting machine that enhanced productivity, increasing throughput by six-fold an hour.

For J&T Express Singapore, four elements should always be improved: people, processes, software, and hardware. Failing to attract more talents and providing them with the necessary tools result in high risks that they are trying to mitigate, Sim said.

However, the situation is improving since Singapore opened its borders as potential employees from other countries, such as Malaysia, can come in. With that, Sim is hopeful that the talent shortage will end this year.

 

Addressing demand

In Singapore alone, e-commerce sales are expected to grow to $13.4b by the end of 2026, said Sim, citing a report by Facebook and Bain & Company. 

Believing that logistics is the backbone of e-commerce, J&T Express has been investing, for two years now, in building its networks, warehouses, and new software processes to cope with the anticipated demand increase.

“We have been expanding our network to provide the widest reach to our brands so that they can geographically cover a greater range of consumers around the world,” Sim added.

In terms of delivery, Sim said consumers are prioritising the convenience and traceability of their parcels. As such, J&T Express provides various delivery options wherein customers can either have their packages delivered straight to their doors or choose a pick locker station close to them. 

Sim also said that they are working on developing island-wide J&T points where customers can collect their parcels.

To ensure traceability, consumers are provided with updates on the status of their delivery, starting from the moment the parcel is picked up, to its arrival at the sorting hub, and lastly when it is sent out for delivery.

 

Sustainability drive

Customers are also now placing importance on the sustainability initiatives taken by the brands they purchase from, as well as their supply chain.

But implementing environmental initiatives is “not a one-size-fits-all type of solution” and has to be put into context, according to Sim.

The existing infrastructure and legislation should be considered. For example, whether there is the capacity to support a fleet of electric vehicles or if road systems can handle these changes. 

J&T Express is doing its part in integrating environmental initiatives, such as recycling reusable packaging materials like cardboard, wooden pellets, and plastics, Sim said. Plastics are either reused or consolidated and taken to a recycling plant.

The logistics firm is also looking to tap into technology to help its fleet management system to streamline route planning so that drivers can travel more efficiently, thus, reducing their carbon footprint. For its warehouses, Sim said they are investing in replacing their halogen bulbs with LED bulbs to reduce temperature, extend the life of these bulbs, and reduce electricity usage.

J&T Express makes it a point to share its practices and experiences with its merchants. For example, the company recommends cardboard box manufacturers that use 100% recycled materials to merchants with such requirements. These efforts provide customers with a better experience when they receive their parcels as they are aware that they are purchasing from a socially responsible merchant, Sim mentioned.

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