Postal CEOs push for closer collaboration on e-commerce

At the 2017 IPC Annual Conference, held on 19 May in Amsterdam, several CEOs from IPC member posts gave interviews, in which they highlighted the need of closer collaboration on cross-border e-commerce-related mail traffic.

Le Groupe La Poste’s CEO Philippe Wahl said that the rapid growth in small packets traffic related to e-commerce is one of the main challenges but also one of the biggest opportunities for posts today. 

Wahl goes on to say that INTERCONNECT is a great answer to the strategic challenges posed by e-commerce growth. Cooperation within the INTERCONNECT network is a great opportunity for everyone in the postal industry.

Philippe Wahl identifies two main challenges for the posts to become a strong partner of the main e-commerce companies: the first challenge is to be able to absorb this acceleration of growth. The second challenge is to provide the best quality as possible. Despite all the challenges, Wahl thinks the posts are up to the challenge.

Javier Cuesta Nuín, CEO of Correos, hopes to be able to find a common approach and to finish the developments that posts have already started and to define where to go in ten years’ time. 

Cuesta Nuín listed four things that the thinks are crucial for posts to have success in an era of e-commerce growth:

  • Constant, real-time traceability of items should be available in data systems
  • Posts need to be cost efficient
  • New, reliable products have to defined
  • Dealing with customs is big challenge for cross-border mail flows and posts need to work on dealing with customs in less time, at a lower cost and with a lot more information for the client

The CEO of PostNL, Herna Verhagen, stated the postal operators need to work on services to fulfil the wishes of e-commerce companies and on what posts can do to be a strong e-commerce network together.

Many CEOs emphasised that the posts need to transform and provide reliable services to addresses changing consumer needs in the light of e-commerce growth. An Post’s CEO David McRedmond said that the retail industry is changing drastically – “turning on its head,” according to McRedmond – at an incredible pace, with consumers increasingly opting for online shopping instead of going to bricks-and-mortar stores. According to McRedmond, the posts are “the shovels of this new gold rush.” That is going to require massive change to meet the demands of consumers.

Georg Pölzl of Österreichische Post stated that the massive growth in the small packets segment is challenging. The main challenge is to do it cost-efficiently and to develop strong IT systems as a basis for efficient delivery.

CTT’s CEO Francis de Lacerda thinks postal operators have a role to play in the context of rapidly growing e-commerce traffic. They have to adapt and transform, as they have been doing for a while already. The speed will only increase. Nevertheless, posts have an opportunity and they should work hard to grab it.

The challenge is to integrate the growth of e-commerce related packet traffic in the postal infrastructure: how they operate their sorting centres, the way they develop the products, the way they manage all the information that is need and required, and the way the mailman operates in this new environment.