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Online Retail in Focus: 5 Key Takeaways from Post-Expo 2014

by Eric Kempton | October 21, 2014 | No Comments

Global online retail is the engine that is driving across-the-board change in the postal industry. That was the prevailing theme at last month’s Post-Expo 2014 in Stockholm, Sweden, where 2,000 attendees from 73 countries converged to discuss the trends that are impacting postal carriers.

Automated Postal Sorter Post-Expo 2014

eCommerce is increasingly global and the sheer volume of goods being bought and sold online – eCommerce is growing at four times the rate of retail in the US – puts pressure on carriers to keep up. Exhibitors at Post-Expo 2014 offered solutions to the shipping challenges that can arise as global retail approaches critical mass.

Some sessions presented new revenue opportunities for local carriers looking to find a role in the online shopping marketplace. Others exhibited the technologies retailers and carriers can adopt to serve international customers more efficiently.

Ultimately, carriers of all sizes seemed eager to jump into the online retail fray, with many shippers already evaluating or implementing new technology and strategies to compete in a new economy. Pitney Bowes was on the floor at Post-Expo 2014, and we observed five major takeaways that defined the event:

1. More Packages to Ship, More Possibilities

Online shopping is driving global parcel shipment volume significantly higher, and it is perfect timing for private postal organizations. As traditional letter volumes decline, lost revenues can be offset by the increase in small package and parcel volumes as well as creation of new business opportunities. For example, many local carriers are establishing partnerships with E-tailers who are looking  for a combination of delivery speed and innovation to add value and differentiate themselves from their competitors.

2. Disruptive Technologies Explored

The cloud, big data, digital payment solutions, hybrid mail, social media and a host of other non-traditional postal topics were explored in multiple seminar sessions.  It more apparent than ever, for posts to develop new revenue opportunities and reach a wider audience, the necessity of embracing current technology is critical.

3. Efficient Shipping is a Retail Priority

Going with one main carrier doesn’t make financial sense at a time when retail is global and shipping options are plentiful. In a bid for greater efficiency and better margins, retailers are relying on technology to help choose the right carriers to distribute their goods. Software can help businesses evaluate shipping options based on a range of factors including package weight, dimension, zone, and delivery requirements.

4. The Future of Sustainable Delivery

The high cost of fuel is a cost consideration for carriers, and attendees at Post-Expo 2014 had a first-hand look at a range of new sustainable vehicles presenting eco-friendly alternatives to fuel-powered fleets. From trailer-carting bikes and electric scooters, to self-contained three-wheelers, to electric vans of various shapes and sizes, innovative vehicles from eight different vendors piqued attendee curiosity.

We may very well see a new eco-friendly fleet of trucks on the road next year.

5. A Focus on Automated Parcel Sorting

Increasing parcel volume is overwhelming carriers’ manual sorting processes, encouraging many to look toward automated parcel sorting solutions. Carriers are evaluating systems not only for cost and speed, but also for flexibility and scalability. Many organizations don’t yet have the volume to justify an investment in a high-end automation system, but see the need to move from manual sorting to an automated or semi-automated solution.

Software and data stream capabilities are essential factors for both posts and couriers. The systems integration with back-end ERP systems along with their adaptability for future business models are just as important as the hardware solution.

The Changing Face of Retail

eCommerce’s significant impact on global shipping should only become more evident as the busy holiday shopping season approaches. Carriers are already taking steps to prepare for the season, but Post-Expo 2014 offered some glimpses at how the postal industry might further adapt to a brave new world of global online retail. Those that do evolve stand to benefit from new partnerships and revenue opportunities.

Automation enables accurate and expedient parcel sorting. Learn more about how Pitney Bowes’ automated parcel sorting solutions can help you scale and streamline shipping capabilities. 

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