On Tuesday February the 18th 2014 SME Europe of the EPP organized a Working Breakfast on “Modern parcel services for SMEs”
The event was moderated and hosted by Martin KASTLER MEP, rapporteur on Parcel Services and Ecommerce, Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.
The Welcome and opening speech was held by Honorary President of SME Europe Dr. Paul RÜBIG MEP, Member of Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. He welcomed Elisabetta Gardini, MEP, Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, new elected Board member of SME Europe. Stating that cross border Ecommerce increased by 20% in the last year and will quadruple over the next years, he thinks that, cross country parcel service, which is connecting all 28 EU member-states, is one of the pillars of the EU. Taking into account that charges for a parcel crossing a border, which is very often a shorter distance than a delivery within a country, are 3 to 5 times higher than charges for a domestic delivery, e-commerce and cross border parcel service should be one of the top 5 priorities of the EU.
One of the Keynote speeches was held by the Marketing Director of International Post Corporation, Herbert GÖTZ. He started his speech by making us aware that the postal industry is facing a difficult time. There was a 50% drop in letters sent in the last years, which means a continuous drop of 5-10% p.a. Postal service providers try to counter these effect, by reducing cost. This results in job losses all over Europe and is not enough to get through this transition. The real key is to find one of the limited options for growth in the industry. One of them being Ecommerce. B2C (private consumers buying online) has an annual two digit growth rate globally. This new market demands new methods and services from the suppliers. Customers want to check on their parcels online and want to know at any point in time where their package is. To satisfy this demand postal service suppliers have to have a seamless interconnected and consistent data network to track the parcel at certain checkpoints, which they would like to build in the next 18 months. He presents the idea to classify the service into three groups. Firstly “Fully traced and day certain”, for the most expensive parcels, secondly “fully traced” for medium and thirdly “easy and uncertain” for the parcels with the cheapest content. The reason for the classification is that the complete service would be too expensive for small parcels with little to no value. The delivery of parcels plays an important role, because people, who had a bad experience with delivery are less likely to order online again, thus decreasing consumption.
The second Keynote speech was presented by the Head of Unit for On-line and postal services from the European Commission, Werner STENGG. He stressed the progress since two years ago, when Ecommerce was a much less debated topic. It is important to support Ecommerce since consumers will buy more, suppliers will sell more and postal service suppliers will deliver more, hence supporting the economy. It is however more difficult in some regions e.g. the countryside and less developed parts of the EU, where postal service is less developed, hence attracting less customers, therefore giving the suppliers little incentive to grow their network. This creates a vicious circle, which is hard to escape. A well-developed cross border postal service gives SME more opportunities to grow, to reduce cost due to bigger scale operations and to be more competitive on the global market. The commission has set objectives for the future. They set transparency a priority. The consumer should have delivery related information e.g. how many orders were aborted due to delivery and who the competitors are. Another objective is to ensure quality and availability of services e.g. being able to track and trace. They try to implement a service where customers are able to choose the mode of delivery “you should not be running after your parcel, but the parcel should run after you”.
The Keynotes were followed by impulse statements from Pablo ZALBA BIDEGAIN, MEP, member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, EP, and Salvador SEDÓ i ALABART, MEP, member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, EP, both vice-president of SME Europe.
MEP ZALBA mentioned in his impulse statement that internet does not have any borders and so the delivery of goods bought via E-Commerce should not be hindered by borders. He underlined the core importance of SMEs to boost innovation and growth, therefore putting SMEs in the center of political work of the European parliament. Although the interests of consumers will be on top of agenda “guaranteeing legal certainty for citizens.”
MEP SEDÓ i ALABART added the immanent lack of delivery options in e-commerce and the high percentage of transactions not being made due to uncertainties or too high price of shipping. He warned that `real´ and `online´ retail should be harmonized, offering the biggest possible advantage to customers and SMEs.