BY KRISTA ANGELA M. MONTEALEGRE
AS THE BATTLE for consumers shifts online, Philippine conglomerates are marching into unchartered territory by taking over logistics companies to ride the emerging e-commerce wave.
LBC Express, Inc. is unfazed by the entry of the big wigs, drawing strength from its expertise honed by decades of moving lives, businesses, and communities.
“Diversified offerings and solutions are a by-product of increasing competition in this sector — which is always a good thing for consumers. But for LBC, I’m proud to say that our heritage and years of experience in this industry is really what sets us apart,” LBC President and Chief Operating Officer Mike A. Camahort said.
Founded in 1945, LBC operated as a brokerage and air cargo agent before evolving into an express delivery service. It became the first Filipino-owned private courier company to provide time-sensitive deliveries and pioneered 24-hour door-to-door express delivery in the Philippines.
LBC is now a household name in express delivery after mastering B2B, B2C, and parcel delivery. It boasts of an extensive retail footprint servicing capability, with a network of over 6,400 locations, partners, and agents in more than 30 countries.
“The country’s logistics industry has been steadily expanding, thanks to globalization and the rise of e-commerce. These definitely contribute to the opportunities that our industry has for growth and is expected to reshape the business in a big way,” Mr. Camahort said.
Online purchases make up only less than 1% of total retail sales in the Philippines. With e-commerce expected to take off, conglomerates are future-proofing their businesses and logistics is a crucial part of their strategy.
While the new entrants are still on the drawing board, LBC is in a unique opportunity to showcase its ability of not only fulfilling deliveries, but also customizing solutions that meet the needs of small to medium enterprises.
“All things considered, I’d say that despite challenges, there are far more opportunities that will pave the way for continued growth in the logistics sector. This is an industry that will continue to challenge us, and adapting to these changes is critical to making sure we continue to achieve our targets and serve our customers,” Mr. Camahort said.
LBC is not resting on its laurels. The logistics service provider is relentless in taking a more proactive approach towards refining systems and processes to better serve the market.
The company is improving its IT infrastructure and automating key facets of its services. For instance, the company is implementing back-end service and systems innovation focused on customer convenience. Couriers are using handheld units during deliveries and SMS alerts are automatically sent to recipients and consignees after packages are scanned and sent out for delivery.
LBC, likewise, is ramping up its expansion by going deeper into untapped areas where the need for a reliable express delivery service is critical. About 100 stores are planned for opening this year, nearly double the 48 branches rolled out in 2016.
To grow the business, LBC is working on sealing key partnerships, leveraging on automation, fleet modernization, and growth and development of its team members. It is also rolling out additional products related to warehousing and the whole supply chain.
The integration of Southeast Asian economies also excites LBC, as open access to manpower, raw materials and other key resources will boost demand for the company’s services.
With more robust regional economic activity, the entire industry is pegged to grow by a staggering $41.3 billion over a four-year timeline. That means a lot of collaboration — not just internally for individual brands, but between industry players — must take place to maintain the growth trajectory.
“It’s exciting to see how the integration will play out among larger, heritage brands and smaller start-ups and how this can possibly pave the way for more innovation in the logistics sector,” Mr. Camahort said.
Krista Angela M. Montealegre is the national correspondent of BusinessWorld.