How do postal operators help SMEs and consumers, especially those in remote/rural areas, reap the benefits of e-commerce?

Contrary to popular belief, there are more SMEs offering e-commerce in Europe than larger enterprises.

The growing demand by SMEs for parcel delivery solutions has resulted in more delivery services geared towards small and medium sized e-retailers, the development of industry-specific solutions (e.g. specific services for e-retailers belonging to the fashion industry), and an expansion along the e-commerce value chain (delivery operators offering website solutions, pick-and-pack, warehousing etc). Examples are Belgium bpost’s “Shipping Master tool” and UK Royal Mail’s “Simple Ways to Grow” e-commerce services for SMEs.

Furthermore, SMEs often have the possibility to buy sets of labels with significant discounts (Deutsche Post, for example, offers discounted sets of labels for both parcels and packets) and online franking allows for discounted shipping rates.

To ensure those living in rural or remote areas do not lose out on the possibilities of e-commerce, national postal operators ensure delivery to both urban and rural areas, under their obligation to provide universal service to all consumers.

National postal operators also work according to the different preferences that rural e-shoppers have from their urban counterparts, while maintaining a good level of customer service and affordability. For example, rural e-shoppers place more importance on the possibility to deliver to a neighbour’s house,, and they put less emphasis on fast delivery compared to e-shoppers in urban areas.