Posts at forefront of wave of globalization ushered in by Internet and e-commerce

08.10.2014 - Posts worldwide are increasingly providing an array of innovative services to meet customers’ new communication needs, as the Internet and e-commerce usher in a new wave of globalization, says Universal Postal Union Director General Bishar A. Hussein on World Post Day, celebrated annually on 9 October.

This new wave of globalization is calling for greater inclusion of citizens everywhere, and Posts, with their 640,000 public post offices worldwide, are increasingly becoming essential partners in the provision of logistics services.

“I urge governments to carry on investing in their national postal network so that citizens and businesses continue to benefit from essential and affordable public services,” says Hussein, whose organization is also celebrating its 140th anniversary on 9 October.

Posts continue to ensure traditional letter-post and parcel services, with many of them adding postal financial services and an array of government services to their offerings.

But, facing a trend of declining physical letter-post volumes, some Posts are reading the digital writing on the wall and focusing on their parcel and small packet services. Volumes here are growing year over year, thanks to the burgeoning domestic and cross-border e-commerce. Between 2006 and 2012, both domestic and international parcel volumes worldwide grew at an average annual rate of more than 5%, despite the global financial crisis.

The letter-post product still generates more than 40% of a Post’s overall revenues in most cases, and there are regions, such as Latin America, where volumes are actually increasing. Nevertheless, overall global volumes are going down, at an annual rate of about 3 to 4% according to UPU estimates, due to electronic substitution of business mail essentially. Posts processed an estimated 350.9 billion letter-post items (including 3.7 billion international items) in 2012.

In parallel, however, the weight of international mail items (letters, parcels, express items) has been going up, according to UPU analyses. Since 2011, international mail tonnage has been increasing at an annual rate slightly higher than 10%, a sign of e-commerce’s impact on the content of a letter carrier’s mailbag.

The UPU predicts these trends will continue, as cross-border e-commerce is expected to deliver sales of 1.5 trillion dollars by year-end.

To prepare for this growth, UPU member countries are rolling out a new optional service for the return of merchandise purchased abroad online. The difficulty in returning goods ordered from another country has always been a deterrent for customers wanting to buy abroad, and e-tailers wanting to sell abroad. This new service option will enable global Posts to better serve customers and e-tailers.

The UPU has also developed an electronic customs declaration system enabling Posts and Customs to more efficiently process international parcels. Canada Post recently inaugurated a new plant in Vancouver, British Columbia, that processes 6,000 items incoming an hour. It is equipped with the UPU’s system. Other countries are piloting the system for implementation.

Connectivity

In the developing world, where only 32% of the population has access to the Internet, governments must also pay attention to connectivity in post offices to bring services to the people who need them, says the UPU’s Hussein in his annual message to the Union’s 192 member countries.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 80% of post offices are located in smaller cities and rural areas, where the majority of people live. For postal services and others to flourish, electrical and Internet connectivity is critical. A report by the International Telecommunications Union, released this year, recognized the importance of expanding broadband Internet in post offices to support financial and digital inclusion in many communities, especially underserved ones, as well as helping governments to provide e-services and small and medium-sized enterprises to sell their goods more easily.

“The global postal network is a tremendous asset for extending digital reach – not only for the benefit of citizens and businesses, but also for governments, development agencies and other stakeholders looking for solutions to many of the challenges our world is grappling with,” Hussein stressed. “By increasing post offices’ electrical and Internet connectivity, governments can ensure that post offices make a major contribution to efforts to bring communication, financial, social and economic services to rural populations.”

Posts worldwide will celebrate World Post Day tomorrow, 9 October, using the Day to remind stakeholders and customers of the relevance and value of postal services in today’s competitive communication market.

Press release
 

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  1. Dirk at 19.01.2016
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