DHL picks Metreo software to improve efficiency

DHL Worldwide Express Inc. wants to quickly deliver packages to other continents, but the global air freight company also wants to respond quickly to its customers’ needs.

Using its manual price-quoting process, company officials found it was taking too long to tell its enterprise customers in the U.S. how much it would cost to ship their goods internationally.

So DHL turned to software developed by Metreo Inc. to automate its system. Metreo, in Palo Alto, Calif., develops e-business software that enables Global 2000 suppliers to evaluate customer sales requests and recommend profitable responses.

About a year ago, San Francisco-based-DHL conducted an extensive business process analysis and found that its pricing process was too time-consuming and laborious.

For example, DHL discovered it could take two to three weeks for its salespeople to receive final approval of price quotes from upper management and then pass those quotes on to their customers, said Isabelle Bax, director of pricing, yield management and sales support at DHL.

“During that time, a competitor could come in and swoop up the business,” she said.

Competitors like Atlanta-based United Parcel Service of America Inc. and Memphis-based FedEx Corp. already have systems in place to deliver fast and accurate price quotes to customers, said Daphne Carmeli, CEO of Metreo.

By using the Metreo SR2 Web-based software, DHL salespeople can set or adjust prices in the field, Bax said. They can access customer data as well as information about the services required by that customer and pricing information while they are in negotiations. They can then recommend an optimal price and receive approval on the spot, cutting down on response time and cost, Bax said.

“With our software, there’s no more waiting around for approvals,” said Kelly Ireland, vice president of engineering at Metreo.

John Fontanella, a transportation analyst at AMR Research Inc. in Boston., said Metreo’s software will let DHL’s salespeople give customers a “rapid response,” block out the competition and ensure that the arrangement is profitable for DHL as well as the customer.

Bax said the system will go live in July. DHL expects to achieve a 100 per cent return on its investment by the end of the year.

Initially, DHL considered developing its own system to achieve its goals, but the company soon realized that building a system in-house would take longer and be more expensive.

Bax said DHL selected Metreo because the company offered a more fully developed pricing process than other vendors. “They offered us precisely what we wanted,” Bax said. “It was a very neat fit.”