On 8th November, PostEurop and Ismail Ertug MEP (DE, S&D) hosted a lively morning session on e-commerce and cross-border parcel delivery in the European Parliament. Parcel delivery is a cornerstone of the fast-growing e-commerce industry and a crucial pillar of the EU’s Digital Single Market.
Owners from three innovative and successful small businesses shared their experience of running an e-commerce business and working with postal operators to reach their end-consumers across Europe and beyond. There was a lively discussion on the role of cross-border parcel delivery for the DSM, and the nature of real obstacles such as language, consumer attitudes and VAT.
MEP Ismail Ertug, a German member of the European Parliament for the Socialists & Democrats, stressed:
“European consumers’ habits are changing and they increasingly shop online. Digitalization allows SMEs to expand their customer base and grow, and cross-border parcel delivery makes it work in practice. The European Parliament has a role to support the development of e-commerce for the benefits of SMEs and their consumers. It was very useful to hear the three SMEs share their experience.”
Jim Shaikh, CEO of Yoomi, a UK company that manufactures self-warming baby bottles and sells them around the world, commented:
“Parents like our products because with Yoomi at the touch of a button they can warm milk in just 60 seconds making their lives easier! We are growing worldwide and we deliver through various shipments, from parcels to containers. We constantly look for the best price and service for all types of deliveries and we work with postal operators as well as alternative providers. As a UK inventor and manufacturer, we need to protect our IP rights, but this comes at a great cost to our small company. In addition, we have EU approval but some member states require additional regulatory checks, making it a little bit harder to sell across borders.”
Tino Kopanakis, CEO of InandOut Distribution from Austria, which sells CDs and DVDs among many other items B2B and B2C, said:
“We created our first online shop in 1998. Since these very early days in e-commerce, parcel delivery has become faster and cheaper. We now deliver to over 80 countries around the world. Price is important for us, and we greatly value Post Austria’s customer-friendly approach in the rare event that a parcel is lost. There are bigger barriers to doing business across borders, for example it would help if the EU had a simplified EU-wide system for VAT returns.”
Aurélien de Meaux, co-founder and CEO of Cheerz, a French SME which enables their customers to print and deliver photos straight from their smartphone to their homes, stressed:
“Cheerz’ customers are very demanding. We do our best to print and send their photos as quickly as possible, and we ask postal operators to deliver fast. We look at the price of delivery, and we value the fact that the posts deliver to every corner in Europe. We look to sell outside of France because it makes good business sense – a market of 500 million is better than a market of 65 million inhabitants – but we have found it works better if we localise our service because, like it or not, consumers often prefer to buy in their own country.”
Jean-Paul Forceville, Chairman of PostEurop – which represents national postal operators across Europe – concluded:
“The three small business owners show that cross-border parcel delivery supports the growth of e-commerce. Postal operators deliver on average around 11 million parcels daily across Europe, and we are constantly adapting to the changing lifestyle of end-customers and the demands of e-retailers for fast, traceable and flexible delivery. Postal operators are working together to improve interoperability and thus support the growth of e-commerce.”
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