Cyber plan to boost deliveries

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Yesterday, “cyber Monday”, UK shoppers were expected to spend £550 million online, according to Experian.

Experian reckoned that shoppers would make 115 million visits to retail web sites – 36 per cent up on last year and spend 15 million hours shopping online. But while online shopping is going from strength to strength, delivery is still the weak spot.

However, according to the European Commission, studies show that only nine per cent of EU consumers buy goods online from other countries, with both e-retailers and consumers expressing their concerns about the shortcomings of current delivery systems used for goods ordered on line. 57 per cent of e-retailers consider cross-border delivery to be an obstacle to trading, while 47 per cent of consumers worry about delivery in cross-border transactions.

So it is timely that the Commission has published a green paper set out its thoughts on improving cross-border services for consumers and operators. It also expects this mean downward pressure on domestic delivery charges.

“This Green Paper consultation will help identify the right measures to improve parcel delivery in the single market,” said Michel Barnier, European commissioner for internal market and services.

“A flexible and well-performing EU-wide delivery system focusing on the expectations of consumers and specific needs of e-commerce will contribute directly to the enormous potential of e-commerce for boosting growth and creating jobs.”

The Green Paper identifies three priorities:

* Improving convenience of delivery services for consumers and SMEs across the EU;

* Ensuring more cost-effective delivery solutions and better prices for consumers and SMEs;

* Promoting improved interoperability of delivery services between operators (better partnerships and cooperation), and between operators and e-retailers, notably SMEs.

The commission is now consulting on the green paper with the aim of developing a seamless parcel delivery process in the EU to support the growth of e-commerce, and ensure that the benefits of e-commerce are accessible to all citizens and SMEs across all regions in Europe via a sustainable and well-functioning delivery system. The consultation closes on 15 February.

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