Harmonised Labelling optimises cross-border e-commerce

As part of the range of solutions covered by INTERCONNECT, IPC developed the Harmonised Labelling service to ensure uniformity, using a set of standardised address elements, icons and layouts based on the existing standard barcode. It also aims to reduce over-labelling and facilitate delivery across various postal networks. The harmonised labelling service enables the members to print the label in an easy way. This service has now been implemented by four posts.

Cross-border postal e-commerce items are labelled by both origin and destination posts due to different standards and formats. This over-labelling of inbound postal items is a waste and inefficient. Moreover, it leads to the presence of multiple labels and barcodes on packets and parcels which leads to a lack of uniformity in the presentation of postal items on delivery and does not contribute to a positive customer experience. Furthermore, a substantial number of postal items are missing a delivery event scan, making these items immeasurable and thereby depriving the customer from a proof of delivery.

A standard label

The harmonised label was designed by IPC, in coordination with its postal members, and developed to enable postal operators to optimise the end-to-end processing of international letter packets and parcels, providing significant improvements for e-retailers and consumers.

Different variants of harmonised labels have been designed to cover requirements concerning letter package labels, parcel labels, and labels with integrated postal forms CN22 or CN23 to facilitate customs clearance, including the UPU barcode standard S10 and a dedicated section for the e-retailers to use for branding or adding a second barcode. Fourteen countries are using already and five more countries are scheduled to start using it this year.

Last year, IPC worked with the UPU Standards Board and stakeholder groups to make the INTERCONNECT harmonised label a UPU standard. This was achieved for parcel labels without the integrated customs declaration. A work item has been approved to expand the standardisation to include letter packet labels and a parcel label with an integrated customs document.

Technical solution

In 2015, IPC rolled out the Harmonised Label Service to support INTERCONNECT participants that chose not to implement the full technical capability to create the Harmonised Label in-house.

The Harmonised Labelling Service was developed as a simple printer service that translates the data elements, received through an incoming XML request, into a fully compliant harmonised label that is send back as a PDF file. The service is conceived as an intelligent service that evaluates the data received and produces the correct label type with or without an optional customs form.

The Harmonised Labelling Service is part of IPC’s data platform, which delivers all data services for IPC’s members and customers.