Explore last mile delivery with Mary Traversy

Former Chief Operating Officer, Canada Post

Mary shares her thoughts on customer expectations, the boom in e-commerce, deliveries to vast and varied geographies, and new technologies.

Customer expectations for last mile delivery have risen in tandem with the boom in ecommerce. What challenges do postal operators face in this changing market?

Customer expectations for last mile delivery have risen as ecommerce has grown and this has presented challenges for all delivery organizations. Postal operators may be most affected by the changing customer expectations. The expectations in terms of speed, delivery convenience, and notifications, amongst others, mean that delivery organisations must be nimble and quick to respond to these changing requirements. Postal organisations have not historically been well organized to be flexible and able to implement change fast. Posts are big, old, bureaucratic, and burdened with their Universal Service Obligations and complex labour agreements. The challenge for Posts is to figure out how to manage with all these restrictions but still respond to the changing market and customer expectations.

“Posts are big, old, bureaucratic, and burdened with their Universal Service Obligations and complex labour agreements.”

From urban to rural, delivery providers are required to be efficient and flexible in their last mile. What challenges do postal operators face when covering vast and varied geographies in the coming decade?

Postal operators will face increasing challenges in the coming years with the vast geography they are required to cover. We see start-up delivery organizations focusing on the dense urban areas where there are inherent efficiencies. In many cases, the Posts are left with the less dense, rural areas where delivery is much more expensive. For Posts, the dense urban deliveries are where the profits were made and the rural deliveries are often below break-even. 

“The Posts are left with the less dense, rural areas where delivery is much more expensive.”

This is one of the reasons that the Posts need to keep pace with customer expectations to hold on to the important urban delivery work, while using technology and other initiatives to improve efficiency in the rural delivery operation.

In your opinion, how can new technologies be used to overcome these challenges?

Technology is the key to overcome the challenges faced not only by the Posts but by many delivery companies. Obviously automation and robotics in the processing and warehouse operations can lead to increased efficiency and reduced labour costs. The challenge for the Posts is the union and political resistance to the loss of jobs. Technology can enable the transparency that customers are seeking in terms of watching their packages and knowing when they will be delivered. One of the most significant technological advancements is the route planning tools that are available. Delivery density is the key to efficiency in the delivery operation, and dynamic route planning is likely the best opportunity to increase density and reduce costs while at the same time improving the customer experience.

“One of the most significant technological advancements is the route planning tools that are available.”

Appointed Chief Operating Officer in October 2015, Mary led all operational aspects of Canada Post’s business, including Plants, Delivery, Engineering, Network and Real Estate.  She also served on the boards of directors of two companies within the Canada Post Group of Companies: Purolator, a leader in integrated freight, package and logistics solutions, and Innovapost, the information technology shared services provider to the Group of Companies

Mary began her successful career with Canada Post in 1984 in human resources. She has held a number of progressively responsible positions in her more than 30 years with the Corporation.

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