The Malta Independent 24 April 2019, Wednesday

Internet shopping? Public consultation on cross-border parcel delivery

Thursday, 21 May 2015, 13:00 Last update: about 5 years ago

The European Commission is launching an online public consultation on parcel delivery - one of the main priorities in the development of a Digital Single Market in the EU.

The purpose of the consultation, which will close on 29th July 2015, is to provide an opportunity for interested parties to have a say on the main issues of parcel delivery and on possible areas for improvement in cross-border delivery services for items purchased online. It therefore targets all citizens and organisations but contributions are particularly sought from individual citizens, companies, including SMEs, public authorities and associations interested in cross-border parcel delivery in Europe.

Delivery was singled out as one of the main priorities for the development of a digital single market in the EU. The purpose of this public consultation is to consult all interested parties on the main issues and possible areas of improvement for cross-border delivery services when sending packets and parcels across the EU.

E-commerce deliveries to consumers continue to drive growth in the European parcels market. At the same time, consumers and e-retailers have increasingly high expectations of delivery services when buying online. However, a lack of delivery features and high prices are obstacles for both e-retailers and consumers, hindering their further participation in e-commerce growth, particularly across borders.

These barriers have already been acknowledged by the European Commission in the "Green Paper on an integrated delivery market to boost e-commerce in the EU"  and in the "Commission's roadmap for completing the single market for parcel delivery". In these documents, the Commission identified the following challenges as action points: lack of transparency of information, excessive costs for low volume shipping, lack of convenient services for the final consumer, and lack of interoperability between the different operators typically involved in cross-border delivery.

For instance, e-retailers want to respond to the needs and expectations of consumers, with simple, transparent, reliable shipping services. They are acutely aware of the fact that consumer feedback is heavily conditioned by the delivery experience which in turn has a direct impact on their brand name and image.  A more competitive delivery market (i.e. one with more actors providing different offers and alternative delivery options) is also a key feature; as are specific delivery requirements for particular products such as medicines, fresh products, or high value goods.

 Yet even in the most competitive markets, the gap between marketing driven e-commerce offers and operation-driven business, logistics processes still persists.  The logistics part is critical to the sustainability of the business of e-retailers, and notably SMEs. The availability of affordable and efficient delivery solutions is particularly relevant for those SMEs and micro-companies that operate from remote areas or peripheral regions. Consequentially, in a very competitive environment, pressure on prices is a key determinant of who gains market share. SMEs looking for revenue earning opportunities across borders are heavily dependent on an integrated European delivery system which has yet to emerge. They are looking for growth in other national markets but are confronted with higher costs, greater complexity and a lack of transparency when it comes to cross border shipment.

The above are just a few of the barriers highlighted in the studies that have preceded this Consultation exercise and it is recommended that interested parties refer to these documents.

The scope of this consultation covers packets (mail items up to 2Kg that would fit in the letter box) and parcels (mail items less than 20Kg) for delivery within Europe. For the purpose of this consultation, Europe includes EU and EEA EFTA countries only. In addition, delivery covers shipments from a retailer to the final consumer (individual), following an online purchase, but not shipments to other businesses.

Throughout the questionnaire, the term "cross-border delivery" is used to mean the delivery of parcels, packets and express parcels (all included) between European countries, unless otherwise explicitly mentioned in the question.  Moreover, due to the possible sensitivity of some information, responses to some questions (where indicated) will be treated as confidential. In addition, any respondent can request non-publication of their contribution.

The European Commission would like to hear from you as a shopper, online retailer, or service provider. Even if you do not shop or sell online, it is important to know what is preventing you from doing so. To participate in the consultation, please go to:

http://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/newsroom/cf/itemdetail.cfm?item_id=8169 
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