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This article is an extract from the Spring Edition of MER Magazine published in February 2019. You can read the full article as well as other articles from MER for free by visiting digital.mailandexpressreview.com.

As SingPost celebrates its 160th anniversary, Mail & Express Review speaks to the company’s Group CEO, Paul Coutts about the company’s ongoing transformation into a global postal and e-commerce logistics provider, and how the company’s primary purpose of connecting people remains.

You joined the company in 2017 to lead SingPost’s transformation programme. How is it coming on?
There is still much more to be done. We have been investing in technology and infrastructure to build capacity and capabilities for the future. Together with expansions into new geographies, we are extending the scale and scope of our services to enable e-commerce for businesses from end to end, border to border.

What are the next steps?
We are focused on integrating our investments and operations across markets to ensure we offer our customers a seamless experience no matter where they are. We are innovating hybrid solutions that will provide greater efficiency, visibility, and control that are required in e-commerce. At the same time, we continue to build on our partnerships with our major shareholders, Singtel and Alibaba, especially in the areas of digital innovation and cross-border e-commerce.

Does traditional mail still have a role to play in SingPost?
Absolutely! The postal network plays a crucial role in driving global e-commerce. Small, light and low-value packages make up a significant proportion of cross-border e-commerce. Their viability depends much on the cost-efficient last-mile deliveries performed by postal organisations, which tend to operate the widest and lowest-cost infrastructure in their respective markets. And across borders, the extensive and well-established international postal network, coordinated by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), offers reliable and economical global connectivity.

What has surprised you about the transformation process?
I have been through several transformations in my career and what people tend to not realise is that the transformation process is never a straight-line journey from Point A to Point B. Markets are dynamic and constantly evolving, and one needs to be agile to adapt to changing conditions, while keeping an eye on the ultimate prize. Transformation, in a looser sense of the word, should also be an ongoing process for every business because an organisation that stops evolving runs the risk of getting left behind. SingPost is celebrating its 160th anniversary this year and yet it is evident that as an organisation, we have a start-up mentality, with a strong drive to innovate and seize opportunities, even as whole industries are being disrupted.

You weren’t able to attend our World Mail & Express Conference in Hong Kong last September – was there anything you would like to share with the readers that you were planning to cover then?
It was a shame that I was not able to join everyone at the conference as I was booked on a flight that was scheduled to land just as Super Typhoon Mangkhut made landfall in Hong Kong. One of the things I wanted to share was that as posts, we should be familiar with disruption.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the rise of the big express companies raised questions about the future of the post. Yet in that upheaval, we saw how a national post took on the disruption head-on and became the world’s largest logistics company. The digital disruption that we face today is no different. e-commerce presents an opportunity for posts to reinvent themselves and there is tremendous potential to be unleashed if we would invest in innovation and increase our cooperation with each other. For a start, we could work on achieving Alibaba’s vision for a smart logistics network that can ship in 72 hours from China to anywhere in the world.

You have been in the sector for over 20 years – how has it maintained your interest?
The sector is constantly changing and that dynamic brings fresh challenges and keeps things interesting. Indeed, I expect the industry to undergo greater transformation in the next five years than it has seen in the last few decades. Nonetheless, the core of what we do will not change. As much as we will see new technologies and new business models, we are ultimately about connecting communities, providing an essential service that brings people together. Even in a digital world, the tangible and physical things do matter.

This article is an extract from the Spring Edition of MER Magazine published in February 2019. You can read the full article as well as other articles from MER for free by visiting digital.mailandexpressreview.com.