Five questions for Kathleen Van Beveren, CEO E-Logistics Eurasia bpostgroup
Active Ants has been part of bpostgroup since 2018. How do you look at the developments of Active Ants in recent years?
Active Ants has had a very successful journey. Since the company was founded, in fact. That's why we made a very conscious decision to go into business with Active Ants in 2018. After the acquisition of Radial (2nd largest fulfilment company in the USA) in 2017, we wanted to further expand the fulfilment offering for our customers with what we call a 'Plug & Play offering'. A fully ready-to-go solution where we can offer customers a complete end-2-end solution for their e-commerce logistics in one week. Storing the goods, preparing them for shipment; Active Ants is fully connected with bpost and other national and international carriers to bring the goods to the end consumer. Active Ants' automated way of working perfectly complements Radial's tailor-made offering. After that, the gravy train roared on: Active Ants acquires industry peer MCS Fulfilment in the Netherlands and opens a new, state-of-the-art fulfilment centre in Roosendaal, next to the headquarters in Nieuwegein. In 2021, we started our European expansion. We opened a site in Willebroek in Belgium and a site in Dorsten, Germany. In other words: Active Ants has grown exponentially in recent years. And the story does not end here.''
Why is it important for Active Ants to expand into countries within Europe? Will more countries follow?
We go where our customers are, where the demand for our services is. The e-commerce market in Europe is developing rapidly: we are catching up with the United States or China. With Active Ants, we are currently investing in Western Europe. Our robots work hand in hand with our employees there. An ideal mix. Expansion to other countries is certainly on our agenda, the next site is planned in the United Kingdom. Due to the Brexit, there is a great demand to operate locally in the UK as well in order to deliver to consumers even faster.''
What is your vision/vision of bpost on the e-commerce market and what do you expect in the coming years?
We expect the e-commerce market to continue to grow. The social trend is irreversible. We want to be a global player that offers our customers sustainable solutions for the complete logistical handling of e-commerce orders. This allows our customers to concentrate on their core business. The logistics sector is still extremely fragmented, while e-commerce is increasingly breaking down borders and becoming more international. Not only can we take care of the entire logistics chain, but we also want to further expand our international network to support our customers in their geographical expansion.''
What role do you think bpost and its subsidiaries, including Active Ants, will play in the future in the world of e-commerce and logistics?
The role of Active Ants, but also of our other subsidiaries of bpostgroup, is crucial. bpost is originally the Belgian postal operator. The evolution to a parcel player was obvious. The evolution of bpostgroup into an e-commerce logistics player is also obvious for us - after all, our customers are the ones asking for it. We are therefore expanding our services in e-commerce logistics. By acquiring different companies and activities, we are able to realise our integrated offer.
How do the different bpostgroup subsidiaries reinforce each other?
The different activities and subsidiaries of bpostgroup are complementary. With Active Ants and Radial we can offer a fulfilment solution to a wide range of customers. Small and medium enterprises often turn to Active Ants, Radial customers often have larger volumes to process and want customised solutions. Active Ants is fully automated. Radial, on the other hand, determines the best working method, automated or otherwise, together with the client. In addition, thanks to the other companies in our group, such as bpost Belgium, Dynalogic and Landmark Global, we can offer a wide range of last mile solutions. These include services: national or international delivery, small or large products, complex deliveries or installations at the consumer's home. Finally, together we can also offer a full return solution to our customers'.