Blue Dart expands network as industry preps for Indian e-commerce boom

Reflecting rising optimism in India as a burgeoning e-commerce market, and subsequent investment into the country’s logistics, air cargo, and e-commerce markets, Deutsche Post-DHL Group’s Blue Dart is pursuing a major expansion plan to expand its logistics network to connect every home in India.

Blue Dart is the leading third-party logistics provider in India and launched its expansion plan in January 2018. Under the plan, the 3PL provider aims to reach all Indian postal codes – of which there are more than 19,100 – by December, with the goal of reaching every home in the country. Since beginning the initiative, Blue Dart’s reach has expanded from about 6,000 postal codes to more than 17,000, with 100% coverage in sixteen states and territories, and has opened 939 new facilities.

For numerous reasons – among them, low internet penetration, limited electronic payment options, and limitations in logistics and infrastructure, e-commerce penetration in the country has lagged levels seen in other large markets like China and the US. However, significant development over the past several years is paving the way for the market to expand dramatically in the coming years. The India Brand Equity Foundation, a trust established by several departments within India’s government, predicts that Indian e-commerce is currently on track to surpass the US in market size by 2034.

With that in mind, the expansion of logistics offerings in India from Blue Dart is one of several investments poised to take advantage of what many in the industry are hoping will be the next frontier of global e-commerce growth. Back in May, Walmart announced it would spend about US$16 billion to acquire a majority stake in India’s leading e-commerce company, Flipkart.

Freighter operations in the country are also beginning to take off. While in 1995 Blue Dart Aviation operated just one 737-200F, its fleet is now comprised of six 757-200PCFs. Additionally, earlier this month, India’s low-cost carrier SpiceJet took redelivery of its first 737-700BDSF to support the launch of a new cargo subsidiary, SpiceXpress, which is on track to add three additional 737 NG freighters over the next few months. While it remains to be seen how quickly e-commerce will transform the Indian market, it’s clear that an increasing number of operators are betting the region is on its way.

Learn more about trends in freighter operations 10-12 October at Cargo Facts Symposium, where a roundtable panel discussion will be dedicated to the topic. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactssymposium.com.

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