The local courier industry has experienced significant growth, driven in large part by the boom in e-commerce. Operating on a highly competitive market, Sameday stays relevant by innovating and developing solutions that improve customer experience. The CEO of Sameday Group, Lucian Baltaru, tells Business Review about the strategy behind the company’s success in Romania and abroad. By Anda Sebesi What were the biggest challenges Sameday Courier faced in 2023? Economic uncertainties and geopolitical events can significantly impact the courier industry due to the snowball effect they have on the cost of fuel, labour, and rising operational expenses. Balancing cost effectiveness while maintaining service quality was difficult in 2023, just as it had been in 2022. At Sameday we tackle challenges by innovating and developing solutions that offer more control and convenience to our customers. Consolidating the easybox network, building a regional delivery infrastructure in Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria, and addressing consumers’ demands through digital products were the main pillars of a successful 2023. What were the most important projects the company carried out in 2023? 2023 was about increasingly leveraging technology for operational efficiency and improved customer experience. Crossborder deliveries: After having set up the operations of Sameday Hungary and Bulgaria, we focused on creating international growth opportunities for our business clients—online stores—by offering reliable and cost efficient door-to-door and fixed address delivery services. First mile to easybox: An initiative allowing businesses to use the easybox parcel locker network for direct dropoff, ensuring lower delivery costs and improved delivery times. The SAMEDAY App: Launched in September, our mobile app is designed to provide users with a convenient and user-friendly platform for managing their courier and delivery needs. SAMY: Our virtual assistant is a chatbot solution we launched in October, providing non-stop assistance for Sameday customers. It simplifies the parcel tracking process, enhances the customer experience, and saves time. SAMEDAY easyway – This service opens the easybox network to shipments made by individuals and offers a simple way to send parcels to any destination in the country through the easybox network. SAMEDAY easyway is a direct response to the constantly changing needs of consumers and provides a simple and efficient solution managed through the more than 3,900 easyboxes in Romania. What is the current state of the courier industry? The industry has experienced significant growth, driven in large part by the boom in e-commerce. Additionally, consumer expectations for faster and more transparent delivery services continue to rise. Courier companies are under pressure to provide real-time tracking, shorter delivery times, and flexible delivery options to meet these expectations. We are proud to have introduced easybox delivery in Romania and to have embraced innovation, and we expect to see increased demand for digitalization in various aspects of operations. How important are ESG and sustainability criteria for Sameday Courier and the courier industry in general? ESG and sustainability criteria are crucial for Sameday due to the interplay of regulatory requirements, consumer preferences, investor expectations, and the industry’s environmental impact. We are adopting eco-friendly practices like the easybox, incorporating electric vehicles into our fleets, and exploring packaging alternatives to reduce our environmental impact. Environmental sustainability will remain a key focus area for Sameday, as we adopt greener practices, optimise routes for fuel efficiency, and explore innovative solutions to minimise our carbon footprint. What were 2023’s main challenges from a management point of view? Management in a context of geopolitical and financial restlessness requires strategic planning, risk assessment, and building resilient teams in all countries where Sameday operates. In a rapidly evolving industry, having colleagues with the right skills and adapting to changes in workforce dynamics is crucial. Similarly, maintaining financial stability for teams and for the client and customer ecosystem while making strategic investments requires careful planning. Here is where agility and innovation change the game, determining the success of a business. What is the outlook for the courier industry in 2024? The demand for courier services will continue to grow in 2024 as more consumers turn to online shopping, demanding efficient and reliable delivery solutions. As a result, the courier industry is expected to witness further technological advancements focusing on last-mile delivery development and improved customer experience. Soon we may see more courier companies focusing on providing real-time tracking and flexible delivery options to meet customer expectations and enhance satisfaction.