E-commerce is changing postal and parcel markets. Global e-commerce streams are revolutionizing shopping, but the current parcel streams are not fit to accommodate this. Almost one out of five EU citizens identifies cheaper delivery prices as the main improvement that would encourage more online shopping from sellers located cross-border in the EU. Similarly, more than one third of online merchants view higher costs of cross-border delivery compared to domestic delivery as an obstacle when selling online abroad. That is why Ecommerce Europe takes up its role in proposing workable solutions for better parcel delivery in Europe with its newly published Manifesto, which is focused on harmonization, labeling and interoperability.
Proposal for a Regulation on parcel delivery services: a good start, but not enough
“According to our Cross-border E-commerce Barometer 2016, inefficient cross-border delivery is constantly in the top three of biggest barriers for online merchants selling cross-border in the EU. Even though the situation has slightly improved compared to last year’s figures, online shops still face major issues”, declared Marlene ten Ham, Secretary General of Ecommerce Europe. Ecommerce Europe believes that the Proposal for a Regulation on parcel delivery services has the potential to help create a level playing field for competing postal-, courier- and express operators and thereby, ultimately, for online merchants across Europe. However, more has to be done in order to fully innovate the European parcel delivery sector for the future of e-commerce.
Standardization and interoperability as essential complementary elements
Although Ecommerce Europe supports the Commission’s proposal, regulatory price oversight may be difficult to implement in the Member States. As a result, Ecommerce Europe strongly supports standardization, and is actively proposing solutions through its work in the European Standardization Committee on Postal Services (CEN/TC331). Ecommerce Europe is convinced that standardization will bring new technology solutions into the market, providing for a better price oversight. This will require providers to adjust themselves in order to compete with each other.
The creation of an information-based delivery market is also essential and many players are already providing such services, including complaint handling systems, redress mechanisms and return services. However, these players need the fundamental interoperability with online stores and among services in order to be widely available for online shops of all sizes. Especially for SMEs, both regulatory oversight and open standards would allow them to compete with bigger companies’ services and therefore reduce market distortion. In fact, currently SMEs have no other options beyond those created by these bigger companies. Furthermore, an interconnected network, with open labeling standards, will allow further consolidation of delivery services, also in remote areas.
Ecommerce Europe’s role for better parcel delivery
As the representative of the biggest users of parcel delivery services, Ecommerce Europe is actively participating at the global and European level. Asa determining stakeholder, Ecommerce Europe ensures that standards being shaped at these levels will be as much as possible coherent and interoperable, so that we can develop a truly international market. Ecommerce Europe also participates in all relevant institutional stakeholder groups and tables the e-commerce sectors’ demands on the agenda (for example, towards the Universal Postal Union). Ecommerce Europe has also played an active role in determining how cross-border e-commerce should develop by assuming the chairmanship of several institutional committees (the CEN Standardization Committee on Postal Services – TC331, its current Work Item 109 “Postal services – Harmonised label and Interfaces for cross border parcels”).
The Manifesto is attached to the accompanying e-mail and can be downloaded soon from the website.