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International Ecommerce & The Postal Environment

Since the opening decade of the 21st century, when international ecommerce was first added to the program of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), there has been significant growth in ecommerce within retail sales

A Trillion Dollar Industry

According to the Global B2C E-commerce Report 2018 published by the Netherlands-based Ecommerce Foundation, the European B2C ecommerce market was worth USD 505 billion in 2015, up 13% on 2014, with global spending online in 2015 amounting to almost USD 2.3 trillion.

Not only does this represent a major opportunity for posts to build on their core packets and parcels business, it will also accelerate the much needed development and re-engineering of local, regional and global distribution networks for goods and services, integrating the physical, digital and financial dimension onto one or many ecosystems.

In 2015 Asia-Pacific remained the strongest B2C ecommerce region in world with over USD 1 trillion in turnover, followed by North America at USD 664 billion, and then Europe.

The Impact of International Ecommerce

These developments will fundamentally change the way we communicate and do business:

  1. Addresses need to be adapted to meet the individual needs of a mobile society.
  2. Forward integration into social media and commerce will lead to alternative ways of linking addresses to an electronic means of identification.
  3. The postal infrastructure, designed for the delivery and acceptance of goods and services, will have to adapt to an environment which is open to all, and driven by the preferences of the users.
  4. Address-specific delivery will be linked to the identity of the addressee, following his/her needs and preferences.
  5. Platforms and ecosystems will use identities linked to delivery preferences, payment preferences and returns preferences to optimize and achieve greater levels of efficiency and transparency.

The Hurdles to Friction-Free Ecommerce

Cross-border ecommerce is currently subject to a variety of hurdles:

  1. National incumbents attempting to maintain national borders & safeguard their interests,
  2. Incompatibility of the various tracking and tracing systems,
  3. Different size and weight standards, and
  4. Different codes of conduct.

However, none of these will be able to withstand the pressure for change which competition will bring.

Our ecommerce consulting services - your benefits:

  • We explain the processes by which today’s analogue retail infrastructures will change to a communication logistics-based, customer-driven model, i.e. from PUSH to PULL.
  • We show you industry benchmarks in integrating international ecommerce, highlighting developments across the industry & indicating how typical challenges are being overcome.
  • We help reengineer your business model, turning it into a communication-centric model and decoupling the classic analogue process components.
  • We help you overcome domestic and regional borders to develop an integrated, cross-border model of ecommerce.
  • We help you understand the advantages currently enjoyed by designated postal operators (national incumbents) compared with international express & parcel services.


We invite you to browse the articles & commentaries in our Advisory database, or contact us directly.

Walter Trezek is the Chairman of the Consultative Committee (CC) of the Universal Postal Union (UPU).

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