Interview with Daniel Radu, National Distribution Director at KLG Europe Romania
What determined KLG Europe Romania to launch Strongo, a new service specializing in heavy goods delivery?
After a 2020 dominated by uncertainty and the unknown, the field of e-commerce and digitalization continued to rise in a predictable manner in 2021. As a result of the growing number of Romanians who began shopping online, many businesses that did not previously operate online had to make the transition. What was surprising was that, in addition to fashion, personal care, and IT, they began to order an increasing number of appliances, furniture, sanitary ware, and tools and equipment.
In addition to addressing the market’s needs, we have continued to develop our solution that integrates all services in the supply chain, with a focus on improving our customers’ access to information. To accomplish this, we set out to launch a new service every year to assist us in reaching our goal. Thus, in order to assist businesses that have both physical and online stores, as well as to make good on our word, we came up with Strongo – through this service, these stores will be able to access a specialized service in the delivery of unusual and voluminous products to the final consumer.
In the current context, the logistics and e-fulfilment industry has faced numerous challenges; how does Strongo relate to them?
During the pandemic, there were indeed challenges for KLG Romania, but there were also opportunities. At the industry level, we can say that the pandemic has had the greatest impact on sectors like transportation, mainly due to lockdown measures and a decline in demand. In our case, we have seen volume reductions in several business lines, including the national distribution service, which has been impacted by the closure of shopping centres and stores. Another challenge for us, and not only, was a lack of containers and space on ships, which resulted in a rapid increase in prices for this mode of transportation, reaching a 600% increase over Q1 2020.
But it was precise because of this context that we were able to focus our resources. Thus the concept of Strongo was born, a national courier service specializing in oversized products (large appliances, furniture, plumbing, and construction materials) with delivery to the end-user.
How can we have an efficient service that is tailored to the needs of the community? Are there any specific advantages for B2C businesses that use such a solution for their customers?
Because its role is to respond precisely to the needs that consumers display, the local market dictates the direction in which a certain service is developed. During the pandemic, more and more people started refurbishing projects in their homes, resulting in a significant increase in orders in the DIY, building materials, appliances, and furniture segments. So, based on the demand from the online commerce sector, we created Strongo, the service dedicated to oversized products that we mentioned earlier. Strongo came up as a direct result of market demand, from both entrepreneurs and end-users. Based on our research, we identified the need for a transparent service that delivers to the final consumer within 24-48 hours, anywhere in Romania, including remote areas. In this regard, we benefit from the national infrastructure of the KLG Europe Romania transport network, which includes 9 hubs strategically located in the country’s largest cities.
Among the advantages that a B2C company can have are the fact that Strongo customers will enjoy door-to-door deliveries, refund by collector or cash account, opening the package on delivery, taking packaging, returning documents, and the ability to offer the buy-back option to the final consumer. As a result, we want to assist our customers in increasing their NPS (Net Promoter Score) – according to an eMAG study, an NPS score of 30-50% can increase sales by up to 24%. This results in a final consumer who is happy and satisfied with the e-commerce services provided by companies that use Strongo.
What were the most significant challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic posed to your company’s workforce?
In general, the challenges that arise in this sector are related to the ability to quickly adapt to a workload with significant fluctuations, and I am referring to adaptation in terms of time and staff. Despite the difficult circumstances, we have been able to maintain the company’s upward trend in recent years, thanks to a diverse customer portfolio, a nationwide network of 9 logistics hubs, and the fact that we are such a strong team.
KLG Europe Romania’s most recent investments demonstrate the company’s strong commitment to digitalization. Why do you believe digitalization is critical to the future of logistics?
The gradual digitalization of our services has and continues to have an impact on the evolution of the KLG Europe Romania portfolio. Our growth is built on three pillars: people, customers, and digitalization. We formed interdepartmental teams for each of these pillars, with the goal of coming up with new ideas to aid in the ongoing development of our solution for integrating supply chain services.
We are also aware of market opportunities that emerge outside of our core business, and we want to continue our upward trend of finding market solutions through a high level of automation and digitization.
What are the company’s future business development plans?
KLG Europe Romania will continue to invest in people and technology, as well as monitor the need for infrastructure investments, in order to maintain its competitiveness in the market. We developed Strongo based on these principles so that we can support both the stores and their customers. It provides the end-user with a high level of predictability across the entire product route, as well as a pleasant shopping experience, whether they shop online or in-store.
Strongo is, in fact, a service that is entirely focused on the end-user, being a 100% complete service. Regardless of which floor someone lives on, our two-person team will deliver the package not only to the door but also set it anywhere in the house. Furthermore, in the future, we will integrate multiple functionalities so that the final consumer can select precisely the day and time of delivery, for an even higher level of predictability. Because we understand that a happy end-user equals a happy Strongo customer.