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CLS Newsletter, Issue #1/2021 --, Covid and ecommerce
March 17, 2021

Spring 2021

The CLS Newsletter

The advice and support you need to succeed in the rapidly evolving digital commerce & logistics environment.

Table of Contents

Covid and ecommerce

Q1 Highlights

Recent articles


Welcome to the spring 2021 issue of the CLS Newsletter. It is safe to say that 2020 was challenging for everyone engaged in commerce logistics: COVID-19 disrupted market developments and enhanced the speed of digitalization. This change will accelerate in 2021, leaving many behind and others unsure how to adapt.

1 January 2021 saw the mandatory introduction of Electronic Advance Data (EAD) for every single cross-border commercial item within the UPU global postal network.

On 1 July 2021 – just 4 months away – implementation of the EU VAT eCommerce Package for all distance sales intra-EU and from third countries into the EU will also become mandatory.

These developments make it imperative to harmonize data further, starting from the point at which commercial items are digitally listed, before any commercial activity has been conducted. The data will need to comply with the data models used for transport security, health and consumer protection, collecting duties and customs, the circular economy (sustainable packaging and eventual recycling), the interconnectivity of delivery operators, and access to contactless delivery via infrastructure such as locker stations, boxes, etc.

As well as helping our clients navigate these new regulations and adapt their business models accordingly, we are actively involved in shaping this data harmonization at national level in Austria and Germany; at European level via Ecommerce Europe and the European Committee for Standardization (CEN); and at global level at the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

All these organizations are making major decisions on how to digitalize transport and logistics to benefit consumers and society. Our position at the interface of digital commerce and regulation gives us a ringside seat to these developments, allowing us to share unique insights with you.

Thank you for joining us on this fascinating journey.


Our event moderation and conference speaking activities have all successfully moved online, and 2021's schedule is likely to repeat the intensity of last year.

February began with the German Logistic Natives 5th Working Group meeting which provided an update on work into German ecommerce standards for parcel delivery, the European Commission’s next mandate to CEN for postal services, and ongoing developments at the Universal Postal Union.

This was followed by an online conference organized by the German Mittelstand 4.0 Kompetenzzentrum Handel examining the impact of Brexit on retail. I provided an analysis of Brexit from the regulatory standpoint, and discussions focused on overcoming the current challenges caused by poor implementation of the UK VAT Reform. There is a substantial backlog of companies waiting to be issued with UK VAT ID numbers, leaving EU businesses with no other alternative than to halt trading with the UK at the present time.

At the end of February, the UPAEP (La Unión Postal de las Américas, España y Portugal) hosted an Interregional Panel on opening the UPU to wider postal sector players. As Chairman of the UPU’s Consultative Committee (CC), I spoke about the Transformation Proposal developed by the UPU CC and adopted unanimously by all its postal, UPU Member Country, and wider stakeholder members. The Transformation Proposal is designed to provide the UPU CC with a more active role, ensuring that, as an advisory body, it can effectively impact the work of the UPU bodies.

At the UPS Webinar series on Postal Services in Transition in March I was asked to speak on behalf of the European digital commerce sector, and present Ecommerce Europe's recommendations for policymakers as they revise the current legal and regulatory postal framework:
  • Postal definitions must be harmonized at EU level before the need for new rules is assessed
  • Policymakers should refrain from regulating consumer rights within the postal legislative framework
  • USO should be maintained and strengthened further
  • The principle of Art. 20 PSD and the role of CEN should be preserved
  • Ecommerce should be seen as a bridge between digitalization and a sustainable economy

As Senior Expert to EU4DIGITAL, I was asked to outline the work being undertaken by EU4DIGITAL with the 6 Eastern European Partner Countries (AM; AZ; BY; GE; MD; UA) to increase cross-border ecommerce at the GS1 Global Forum earlier this month. This project is piloting a virtual warehouse in which merchants list goods and merchandise in a harmonized manner on marketplaces globally. Merchants will use the harmonized data in the EU Customs Data Model and the UPU EAD Data Model to raise efficiency when connecting to delivery operators and national authorities. Project updates are published regularly on the EU4Digital website.

Future events are listed on our website.


Ecommerce Trends 2020: The Impact Of COVID-19 On Ecommerce In 2020

According to a new survey on ecommerce trends 2020 by Ecommerce Europe, accelerating digitalization in European retail trade following the COVID-19 pandemic is – unsurprisingly – leading to steady growth in the ecommerce sector. Businesses and consumers are both driving this growth. Further growth is expected in retail goods and services in 2021 – but the scale of this growth will depend on the severity of COVID-19 measures. Read the article here.

Ecommerce: Steps To End VAT Evasion and Online Retail Fraud

Online retail is booming, with ordered goods being delivered by post and parcel services. However, this rapid growth in retail ecommerce is being matched by increasing import VAT evasion, online retail fraud, and a boom in illegal trade using the postal channel. The Universal Postal Union (UPU) and the EU are both implementing global measures to counter these trends. Read the article here.

International Ecommerce: 8 Factors Impacting Online Retail in 2021

International ecommerce is growing at an explosive rate, and not simply in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

This growth creates huge opportunities, but only for those merchants & marketplaces ready to comply with the new framework conditions effective from 2021. 8 key factors will shape international ecommerce in 2021. Read the article here.

I think that just about rounds everything off this quarter.

Thank you for reading this far. If you have any questions or want to talk to me directly about any of the subjects covered here, do get in touch.

Likewise, if our expertise is relevant to your area of business, then please feel free to forward this newsletter it to friends and colleagues within your network – and if you’re reading because someone sent it to you, then why not subscribe directly, or sign up for regular blog updates!

Until next time,


Contact Walter

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Copyright: Walter Trezek, 2021

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