Postal operators need to develop flexible, seamless solutions for international e-retailers if they are to benefit from the boom in e-commerce, a round table hosted by the International Post Corporation has concluded.
The round table on Innovations in E-commerce brought together leading online, offline and cross-channel retailers like eBay, Wal-Mart, Gap and Safeway, key figures in the e-commerce value chain from the IT, logistics, and postal industries.
Mark Carges, chief technology officer, eBay; and Chris Curtin, vice president digital strategy, corporate marketing, Hewlett-Packard both spoke at the event co-hosted by International Post Corporation and the Stanford Graduate Business School Global Supply Chain Management Forum.
The main findings were:
1. The future of e-commerce and the logistics to support it will drive ever-increasing convergence in technologies, and changing consumer demand. Greater convergence of brick-and-mortar and online/mobile is foreseen with the emergence of cross-channel retail experiences that seamlessly combine physical and virtual aspects of shopping.
2. Key trends are ‘social’ and ‘mobile’: global social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter will increasingly act as key drivers to e-commerce, and future growth will likely be predicated on the strong role of mobile technologies that integrate a range of existing and new features that will lead to the ubiquity of hyper-connected, always-on consumers.
3. The predicted explosion in e- and m-commerce will offer immense opportunities to postal operators – in cross-border e-commerce in particular. However friction points need to be resolved to realise the full potential of international e-commerce. Among these are landed costs and returns solutions. In order to become partners of choice for e-retailers, posts need to provide flexible, seamless solutions that offer greater cross-border visibility.,
4. Demand for free delivery is predicted to remain prevalent, posing challenges for e-retailers on how to address consumers’ perceptions of ‘free’ delivery while recouping the cost of shipping.
5. Meeting consumer demand for tracking solutions also implies costs. Consumers are likely to accept the lack of tracking services – and relatively slow delivery times – for low-value purchases (of less than say $10), whereas shopping cart purchase values of above this amount trigger consumer demand for tracking services.
6. Winning consumer trust is critical and e-retailers need to be careful not to break the bond with consumers. A risk factor in this is the use of consumer details for promotional and marketing purposes. Consumer opt-outs are generally not made as easy as they could be, but this is not by consumers perceived to be a trust breaker. However any perceived misuse of personal data will likely result in consumers blacklisting the company, and to a receptive and wide audience thanks to social media.