Today’s logistics market is very demanding and is driven by consumers’ ever-rising expectations for faster and faster delivery times, pushing service providers to their limit. Accordingly, the adage “Customer is King” has never been more accurate.
Orders are placed online around the clock, and delivery options now cover all service levels, including same-day delivery from manufacturers or suppliers to the end-user or consumer, which the logistics world is continuously striving to meet. However, this increased level of service is placing more strain on both man and machine, especially those behind the scenes who are responsible for managing and operating the supply chain.
In Thailand, the last-mile delivery business is very well established, with many excellent providers in the game. It is the domain of parcel operators. But what about shippers looking to move larger goods across the country that parcel operators cannot accommodate? How do these bulky items of cargo fit into the supply chain? The first thing that becomes obvious for anyone who looks into these questions is that there are no nationwide standards, and nothing is as straightforward as booking and shipping a parcel.
To look into these issues in more detail, let’s assume a company wants to send a few boxes of urgent spare parts or food products weighing 300 kg from Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani.
Shipping Options within Thailand
Typically, a shipper with small items in the greater Bangkok area has several options, but shipping with a parcel operator is impossible when things start scaling up. Chartering a large truck is out of the question since 300 kg of cargo would only occupy 10 to 15% of the smallest of these vehicles, which in most cases is a six-wheeler. Why would anyone pay for a whole truck and only use approximately one-tenth of the space?
Consequently, shippers tend towards the use of a pickup truck. They are available everywhere in Thailand, and many people perceive them as a cheap solution; however, this belief is a misconception. More on that later. Another option is to work with an LTL operator specialising in the Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani route.
Are Pickup Trucks Viable for Cross-County Delivery?
Let’s have a look at the options for pickup trucks first. Unless you have a regular contract with a transport provider, locating one and agreeing on a price is a rather long and tedious job. If you opt for this delivery method, the driver will come to your location, pick up the goods, and drive straight to Ubon Ratchathani. However, the delivery time is almost always undefined. The time it takes depends on the driver, how many stops he makes, and how well-maintained his truck is. Therefore, your customer in Ubon Ratchathani has no choice but to wait until the pickup truck arrives.
As mentioned earlier, many believe that pickups offer the best rates, and the price for the transport looks cheap at first glance compared to other available options, but in reality, it isn’t because the pickup truck will return to Bangkok empty. This means that the shipper also needs to pay for the cost of the empty return to the operator. While pickup truck operators rarely mention this, they certainly factor it into their prices.
Another issue is that while pickup trucks may be able to transport items like spare parts or other small-to-medium-size goods, they are not large enough to haul certain food products as the containers are too bulky.
How do LTL Providers Stack Up?
Looking at LTL options, there are other factors to consider. First of all, it’s not easy to locate one on a specific route, compare prices and service levels, and more often than not, shippers must deliver the cargo to the operator’s warehouse themselves. For some, that may be a challenge, while for others, it is simply not an option. Secondly, not all LTL operators have daily departures, and service levels are not standardised, meaning delivery could take anywhere from 2 days up to 5 days, depending on when the operator has enough cargo to fill the truck.
Regarding food products, an LTL operator would be preferable over a pickup truck, but there are still other challenges or inconveniences. For example, many operators are small companies, and quite a few require payment upfront. Also, their insurance cover status is often undefined, and when the need arises to claim for loss or damage, it won’t be easy to deal with them. Moreover, knowing when the goods have been delivered successfully requires waiting until the Proof of Delivery (POD) receipt makes its way back to the trucker’s Bangkok office, from where the company will forward it to the shipper. This is neither cheap nor convenient and is definitely not an easy process to monitor.
Additional Pain Points
Increasing the problems and inconveniences, let’s assume the shipper is located in a province far away from Bangkok, say Nakhon Sri Thammarat, which is 800 km from the Thai capital. Unlike goods shipped from Bangkok, there is no service from this location that connects directly to Ubon Ratchathani. The first option would be a pickup truck, but the cost would be extraordinarily high due to the long distance and the fact the pickup truck would need to return home empty, not to mention that it would take several days.
Looking at LTL options for this scenario, as there are no regular operators on the route from Nakhon Sri Thammarat to Ubon Ratchathani, shippers would first have to find an operator to bring shipments to Bangkok and then locate another operator who will take care of the second leg of the journey from Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani. In any case, it is a complex and time-consuming exercise, not to mention that shippers must deal with separate delivery parties and insurance companies (if things go wrong), handle cargo transfers themselves, await multiple PODs, etc.
How does APX compare?
To achieve the fastest and most reliable connections throughout Thailand, APX moves all cargo transported through its services on pallets via delivery hubs. A rough calculation of the price savings for one pallet on a door-to-door basis is as follows; on the Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani route, the APX service is THB 2,860 cheaper than a pickup truck and THB 10,325 cheaper than a 6 wheel truck. However, from Nakhon Sri Thammarat to Ubon Ratchathani, the pickup truck costs THB 7,500 more than APX’s service, while the 6 wheel truck is an astonishing THB 23,200 higher.
These examples are excellent illustrations of why APX has introduced a scheduled, competitively-priced, fully-trackable, door-to-door service from any location in Thailand to any other nationwide, bringing transparency, predictability, and reliability to every corner of the country.