The recent rash of DHL announcements may have left you with more questions than answers. To paraphrase  Mark Twain, “The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated”. And in spite of what rumors you might have heard, DHL will maintain a presence in the US. Here are the facts as we know them:

·         Yes, domestic express and ground shipments (within the US) are going away at the end of January, and  DHL is already removing drop boxes in many locations. As of now, you can no longer ship domestically unless you have a current DHL account (exception: shippers with prepaid ShipReady products-see below). Service to Puerto Rico will not be affected, since DHL classifies these shipments as international.
·         DHL Global Mail, which delivers mail and packages within the US, is not affected by the changes. In fact, DHL recently introduced its new SmartMail Plus parcel offering as a replacement for their DHL@Home service, with final delivery by the Postal Service.
·         Starting early in 2009, DHL plans to beef up their international inbound and outbound service, adding a new, lower cost  “Economy Select” deferred international offering in early ’09.
·         DHL will also offer earlier deliveries of inbound international shipments to metropolitan areas of the US, along with later pick ups of outbound international shipments, also for metro areas. According to DHL, inbound international shipments outside of metro areas will be delivered by a combination of regional carriers and the Postal Service.     
Here are the key dates:

  • November 17th-on time guarantees waived for domestic shipments, which might indicate that DHL anticipates some possible reductions in domestic service levels from now until the end of January. International shipment guarantees remain in effect.
  • November 29th-Saturday pick ups and deliveries no longer available; DHL will no longer accept hazardous materials shipments from this date forward.  
  • January 30th 2009-last day for domestic shipments (other than SmartMail). DHL has committed to deliver any domestic shipments which are still in their system after that date.
Steps To Take Now:
  • Seek alternatives now-don’t wait until the bitter end! FedEx, UPS, the Postal Service and the regional carriers are all actively courting current DHL shippers, so begin looking at those options right away. And this might be a good time to take a strategic look at your shipping patterns, with an eye to keeping  costs as low as possible. You may be pleasantly surprised at the amount of money you can save by truly optimizing your operations. As just one example among many, consider converting less time sensitive deferred air shipments to ground. Although DHL was clearly the “low price leader”, some leg work and detailed analysis now could translate into little or no actual cost increases going into the New Year.  
  • If you’re currently using DHL for residential shipments within the US, take a look at SmartMail-your rates could actually go down.
  • If you have a supply of DHL Ship Ready prepaid envelopes or boxes, try to use them up right away.   DHL says they will refund the purchase price of any unused products after January 30th-call the DHL Ship Ready hotline at 1-800-514-0351 for details.

Doug can be reached at or at 503-784-2421.