According to a study by EMOTA, ecommerce Europe, and IPC/BCG, global B2C ecommerce sales amounted to EUR 1062 billion in 2013.
2013 marked growth of 18% in North America, by 19% in Europe (25% in Eastern Europe) and 30% in Asia Pacific in 2013. Asia Pacific will soon overtake Europe (EUR 350 billion in 2013) as the largest ecommerce market.
In 2012, online goods worth EUR 40 billion were traded across European borders, and cross-border ecommerce in the EU is set to grow by 75% to 2020.
Returns and the traceability of goods and services are a priority for up to 50% of consumers.
With letter items in decline, postal operators are turning their attention to ecommerce as an alternative source of revenue.
Where the universal service obligation was previously linked to nationwide, daily mail distribution, with the delivery of documents at its core, the delivery of services and goods purchased by customers on ecommerce platforms is focused on the reliable and traceable delivery of merchandize.
business to consumer (B2C) delivery has the potential to fundamentally change
the service portfolio and service obligation of postal services:
This change in the mail mix also leads to fundamental changes in the product & service structure.
It is therefore no surprise that ecommerce, in particular registered mail for cross-border, traceable items, neither fits in with current delivery processes, nor sufficiently covers the costs involved.
Postal services have understood that global ecommerce requires a new postal service offering.
The UPU is currently designing a traceable and quality-of-service measured, cost efficient, cross-border, 0–30 kg, delivery product.
The more posts become involved in global ecommerce, the more service-based pricing needs to be established, and the current Terminal Dues system with the Inward Land Rate System combined.
The necessary customs, digital forms and process integration will drive forward adaptions to UPU regulations and conventions.
The benefits for the designated postal operators of working closely to establish a single, global, integrated ecommerce fulfillment network are manifold:
In short, global ecommerce is forcing postal services to cooperate more closely, redefine their traditional products & services, and facilitate smooth and unimpeded global, B2C cross-border delivery.
However, due to its vastly greater volumes, B2C document-based communications will always represent much greater potential for postal services than delivery of B2C merchandise. It is here, by creating next generation postal communication logistics networks for consequential communications, that the potential for real revenue generation lies.
Walter Trezek is the Chairman of the Consultative Committee (CC) of the Universal Postal Union (UPU).
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