NEW REPORT: EUROPEAN POSTS OVERCHARGE CONSUMERS ON INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING
International shipping within Europe can cost up to five times as much as domestic shipping, according to new research from Saint-Louis University in Brussels, Belgium, conducted on behalf of the European Commission. Researchers estimate that varying cross-border prices within the EU are, on average, 471 percent higher for packages, and 324 percent higher for letters than comparable domestic shipments.
The researchers estimated the consumers could save more than 11 billion euros annually without these cross-border delivery premiums.
A related survey conducted by the Commission found that two-thirds of consumers held off on purchasing goods from other countries because of concerns about the high cost of delivery.
The European Commission is likely to use the report to push for “more efficient and affordable parcel delivery” across borders within the Union.
A FLURRY OF MAJOR POSTAL DEAL-MAKING
National posts around the world are partnering with private businesses in order expand beyond the traditional mail market. Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce mammoth, has signed a contract with Australia Post to connect Australian businesses with Chinese manufacturers. The deal will allow Australian firms to sell to China in bulk. Australian wine is among the first goods to be sold through the Alibaba-Australian Post portal. The post will also sell Alibaba’s Alipay card through its outlets. That will allow Australian consumers to buy Chinese goods direct.
In India, 17 banks and insurers are seeking the help of India Post to peddle their financial services, including insurance and payments on mortgages. In order to gain access to India Post’s delivery network, the companies would have to formally partner with the India Post Payment Bank. These private firms would be looking to India Post staff to reach potential customers in rural areas, where they may not have operations of their own.
And in the United Kingdom, the Credit Services Association, a debt-collection trade group, and Critiqom, a direct mail service, are negotiating with Royal Mail to extend discounts of up to 15 percent on postal services to the group’s members. CSA’s vice president, John Ricketts, said the plan would give members an opportunity to “reduce their costs at a time when other cost pressures are increasing.”
Another British firm, Spring Global Delivery Solutions, is teaming up with the German firm Postcon, an alternative to the dominant Deutsche Post, to deliver mail from the United Kingdom to Germany more efficiently.
UNCONVENTIONAL STRATEGIES FOR FALTERING NATIONAL POSTS?
Several faltering national posts are exploring unconventional strategies to stay afloat. In Italy, the European Union has approved 2.39 billion euros in state aid for Poste Italiane. The aid is being given to Italy in order to provide basic mail service across the country. The Italian government, which holds a majority stake in the post, will make available more than 1 billion euros as long as it meets minimum service-quality requirements between 2016 and 2019. Italian government officials will also give Poste Italiane money for postal services they provided between 2012 and 2015.
Canada Post has opened a test store in an old TD Bank branch in Ontario, where customers can use a drive-through lane to pick up packages or drop off mail. The Post is also selling postal products and commercial gift cards through vending machines. The new facility even features a fitting room, where customers can try on clothes that they’ve ordered online and then immediately return them, if necessary.
The U.S. Postal Service has asked the Office of the Inspector General to contract with a supplier to find ways to bring in new revenue by either licensing or selling USPS’s brand. The inquiry was sparked by a study by Premier Quantitative Consulting, which valued the USPS brand at about $3.6 billion. The report recommended “expanding licensing activities” in order to further “enhance” USPS’s brand.
NOT JUST DELIVERY TO THE DOORSTEP
Online purchases are increasingly being delivered somewhere other than the customer’s front door. ParcelPoint, one of Australia’s largest package services companies, is expanding the number of stores that can be used as Amazon pick-up points. In over 1,000 stores, customers will be able to send their packages from Amazon to a ParcelPoint store for pickup.
Julian Leach, the co-founder of ParcelPoint, said the expansion will make shopping easier for customers. “Shoppers can choose to have their orders shipped to a ParcelPoint location, ensuring gifts remain a surprise until they are unwrapped without having to worry about missing an important delivery,” he said.
Amazon has installed its first set of lockers in France where customers can retrieve goods they’ve ordered online. The 55 lockers, which are in a shopping mall outside Paris, will also reduce the risk of package theft. Amazon has rolled out hundreds of similar lockers in the United States and the United Kingdom.
In the United Kingdom, Global Freight Solutions is giving its customers the option to pick up their online orders at one of 2,500 DPD parcel stores. Customers can choose the DPD store for pick-up on Global Freight Solutions’ online order form as an alternative to receiving the package at home. Customers can also return products to Global Freight Solutions through DPD parcel stores.
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