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Henrik Hahtovirta
Commercial Director, Parcel Services Posti Ltd

As the Commercial Director of Parcel Services, Henrik is in charge of creating and commercializing new concepts for online retailers. Henrik has over 10 years of experience in managing service digitalization, online business operations and e-commerce both in Finland and in the international business environment.

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How can we respond to the change?

The clearly identifiable transformation in commerce is proceeding ever faster. At the heart of this transformation is the fact that e-commerce has become a very normal way of buying consumer goods among nearly all target groups. 

This change is due to the simple fact that, while online shopping, many of the usual parts of the buying process—such as searching for product information, reading reviews as well as comparing products and prices—are much easier than they would be at a normal shop. This means that e-commerce makes consumers’ everyday life easier. While shopping online becomes more common, consumers’ expectations of the turnaround times and delivery speed will grow.

We have taken this into account by offering as broad a selection of delivery types for e-commerce goods as possible to help meet these expectations. The transformation of commerce is now forging ahead. Examples of this include Smartpost parcel lockersClick & Collect servicessame-day delivery, which is being piloted in the capital region this fall, Saturday delivery, which reaches 40% of Finns, as well as peak season Sunday delivery. After the conclusion of the same day delivery pilot project, we will consider extending the service coverage to other regions in Finland.

Reading these articles, it is clear that consumers want ever-faster service.

 icon-quoteConsumers’ use of online stores may change significantly due to quick deliveries if the goods that were ordered at work in the morning arrive at the consumer’s home by the evening of the same day.

Unlike in many other countries, parcel lockers are preferred over home delivery in Finland. Posti Parcel Lockers have been installed at almost 1,000 locations throughout Finland. The placement of the parcel lockers along consumers’ everyday routes—such as at shopping centers, stores, companies’ lobbies and housing companies’ own facilities—is surely one of the reasons for their great popularity.

And, of course, the fact that consumers can pick up the parcel when it suits them and that one does not need to wait at home for the parcel to arrive also helps make parcel lockers more popular. Consumers are looking for convenience, and they do not want to deviate too much from their usual routines. An extended network of parcel lockers situated along routes often taken by consumers is the answer to these needs.

Click & collect, on the other hand, is a delivery type that combines the online store and brick-and-mortar store. In practice, the store offers an opportunity for the customer to pick up their online store purchases from the parcel locker located at the brick-and-mortar store. This allows the buyer to pick up their purchase quickly and without any queueing, and to return the purchase if it is not to their liking. This helps combine online and brick-and-mortar stores’ paths to purchase while significantly supporting omnichannel retail.

The consumer can place an order at home in the evening and pick it up from the store’s parcel locker on the way home from work without needing to queue or look for the right product. Consumers’ use of online stores may change significantly due to quick deliveries if the goods that were ordered at work in the morning have arrived in the consumer’s home by the evening of the same day.

Successful delivery is a significant part of the overall online store customer experience

After a consumer compares different products online and makes a purchase, the rest of the service experience consists of logistics. A delivery type and speed that meet the consumer’s needs play a crucial role in all e-commerce. That is why we measure our operations by carrying out various kinds of surveys as well as by actively collecting feedback from consumers and online retailers.

 icon-quote Consumers are looking for convenience, and they do not want to deviate too much from their usual routines.

Faster deliveries and the extensive coverage of parcel lockers are examples of measures taken on the basis of the consumer and online retailer needs that have been uncovered through our surveys. We are seeking to form all-encompassing partnerships with online retailers that start from warehousing and enable us to support and develop the business operations of individual retailers. The success of each of our partners is also a success for us.

In addition to that, we are also constantly keeping up with what is happening globally in terms of delivery types and the development of e-commerce, and we use that knowledge to also develop our own operations. For instance, one-hour delivery, new ways of utilizing data and technology as well as various crowdsourcing models are some of the innovations being used in North America, Asia and some European countries. Same-day delivery is one of our new concepts and a step toward these kinds of changes.

Get your own share of the growth with store profiling

A good online store is built on good usability and findability. After that, one should focus on having the right kind of selection that is aimed at the right kind of target group. In addition to that, the store must profile itself in a way that is both unique and meets consumers’ needs.

Stores that lack a clear position, customer promise and a selection and pricing strategy will find it difficult to stand out from the competition and find growth. By profiling itself, your store can stand out and finds its way to consumers’ hearts. With the help of profiling, you will also specify what market and competition you will be involved in. However, these are only the basics that you will need to have in order when opening a store. Being merely average is no longer enough for growth.

E-commerce develops when it is included on the agenda of senior management

E-commerce has grown in the last two years in particular, and the fact that e-commerce is forging ahead has been evident in the media and in consumer behavior. Consumer groups that have not routinely used online stores in the past have now started to do so more and more.

Despite that, us Finns are behind the other Nordic countries as well as the rest of the world when it comes to consumer purchasing behavior as well as e-commerce’s share of all commerce. The reasons for this would include the fact that, despite our good competence, us Finns have been late to get involved in digitalization, e-commerce and multi-channel retail. Some have still not gotten involved in any of it. This gives an unnecessary head start to international retailers that already have online stores with good selections and user experience as geographic borders have disappeared online. On the other hand, these retailers can help spur on every Finnish online retailer.

icon-quote Being merely average is no longer enough for growth.

In a way, we are still in the beginning of this development process. All sorts of new technologies will emerge, which will in turn offer more chances for new operators. At the moment, AR and VR solutions are becoming more popular in e-commerce, and it will be interesting to see how store offerings will develop due to them. However, the driving force of the entire industry is improving consumers’ quality of life and making everyday life easier with the help of technology and new innovations.

That same idea is also at the heart of our operations at Posti. E-commerce has only recently started making its way onto the agenda of senior management. If e-commerce is not included on the agenda, operations will remain scattered and e-commerce will not get the resources it needs. Moving e-commerce to the top of the agenda will provide the conditions needed for growth and broader development. By all of this, I do not mean to say that it is too late to get involved. You can absolutely still get involved: the growth of e-commerce is not going to stop any time soon and there is still room for a lot more of it both in Finland and around the world.


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