Now that the 18 months that the European Commission has given the parcel delivery sector to improve their industry have passed, the European regulator organized a day-long workshop to take stock of the most important initiatives developed. The Commission invited Ecommerce Europe to present its plans for an online e-Logistics Platform. Stéphane Tomczak, Chair of the e-Logistics Expert Group of Ecommerce Europe presented the initiative to the regulators and the other stakeholders in the room. While initially the Commission asked the delivery sector to increase transparency and efficiency in the European market, the European Commission welcomes the initiative of Ecommerce Europe to develop its own project from out the e-commerce sector.
Improving transparency and efficiency
As the Commission quoted from the Ecommerce Europe survey “Barriers to Growth” during the workshop, and as many online merchants in the room confirmed, slow, costly, and unreliable cross-border parcel delivery is one of the biggest reasons why many online merchants do not engage in cross-border e-commerce. Ecommerce Europe wants to help online merchants and especially SMEs in getting their parcels delivered cross-border by the creation of an online e-Logistics Platform. The Ecommerce Europe e-Logistics Platform will have an enormous impact on transparency, cost decrease and quality improvement by being the catalyst power at the centre of the whole e-Logistics ecosystem and by connecting merchants, service providers and databases.
Delivery operators’ initiatives in development
During the workshop, the delivery operators also presented their plans to enhance transparency in their market, as the European Commission has requested from them in the Roadmap for completing the single market for parcel delivery. PostEurop presented the five commitments (part of) the postal sector has made come to significant improvements in the market. Their aim is to offer flexible delivery options, return solutions, enhanced track & trace, improved customer service, and a harmonized labelling concept throughout Europe. They reported uniform implementation still remains difficult however, as not all postal operators in Europe are at the same level yet. On their turn the express operators in the room presented some of the practical solutions they have come up with to improve service, such as pick-up points and more personalized delivery.
Online merchants ask for more coordination between operators
One of the main questions from online merchants to operators was to cooperate more, so that reliability and interoperability of delivery services can be enhanced. While they welcomed the initiatives presented by the operators as good steps in the right directions, online merchants to date have not experienced any significant improvements in cross-border delivery options. Merchants especially asked for more affordability, more standardized solutions – specifically harmonized labelling – and more information on delivery options. While the Ecommerce Europe platform is a solution for the need for more transparency in delivery options, the other questions of affordability and harmonized labelling will have to be answered by the delivery sector itself.
The European Commission is now taking stock of the initiatives presented by the delivery operators to assess if they are enough to reach the goals of improving transparency and efficiency as set out in the Roadmap. The Commission will assess the outcomes of their research and then decide what follow-up policy measures are needed.
An important part of this research is the public consultation the European Commission has launched to see what the impact of the parcel delivery sector on consumers and online merchants, and where challenges still remain. To fill in the short questionnaire, please click here.