Technology and change in postal services - impacts on consumers

The study provides an overview of current general and technological developments and assesses their potential future impact. It considers which issues might arise for consumer protection authorities and possible actions to take. Driven by competition and customer demand, postal and parcel operators use advanced technology, above all to improve operational efficiency and to offer new products and services. In particular, consumer demand for faster handling of orders and more convenient delivery is driving change in the sector.  

We identify 15 fields of technology that will have a major impact:  

1. Automation in letter and parcel sorting 

2. Extended track and trace for parcels and value-added mail services 

3. Growth and competition in the parcel market 

4. Sustainability 

5. E-substitution 

6. Predictable delivery and re-directed delivery 

7. Same-day delivery 

8. Variety of PUDO solutions (pick-up and drop-off) 

9. Shipping platforms for consumers 

10. Sharing economy 

11. Consolidating parcel volumes in rural areas 

12. Automated vehicles 

13. Robots in postal logistics 

14. Delivery by drones 

15. 3D printing 

For each innovation, we discuss potential effects on consumers. The report concludes that technology plays an overall positive role for postal services and acts as an enabler and a driver for better services for consumers. However, not all consumers will be able to benefit to the same extent. The positive impact of innovations on consumers requires that consumers have network access, devices, and knowledge. It should be also noted that many of the (potential) delivery solutions are characterised by a major disparity between urban and rural areas. Most solutions are designed for densely populated areas, such as click and collect stores, parcel lockers or same-day deliveries. This leaves consumers in sparsely populated rural and remote regions at a disadvantage and/or facing surcharges for some kinds of delivery services.

The full report as well as the summary is available for download. 

Technology and change in postal services - impacts on consumers

The study provides an overview of current general and technological developments and assesses their potential future impact. It considers which issues might arise for consumer protection authorities and possible actions to take. Driven by competition and customer demand, postal and parcel operators use advanced technology, above all to improve operational efficiency and to offer new products and services. In particular, consumer demand for faster handling of orders and more convenient delivery is driving change in the sector.  

We have identified 15 fields of technology that will have a major impact:  

1. Automation in letter and parcel sorting 

2. Extended track and trace for parcels and value-added mail services 

3. Growth and competition in the parcel market 

4. Sustainability 

5. E-substitution 

6. Predictable delivery and re-directed delivery 

7. Same-day delivery 

8. Variety of PUDO solutions (pick-up and drop-off) 

9. Shipping platforms for consumers 

10. Sharing economy 

11. Consolidating parcel volumes in rural areas 

12. Automated vehicles 

13. Robots in postal logistics 

14. Delivery by drones 

15. 3D printing 

For each innovation, we have discussed potential effects on consumers. The report concludes that technology plays an overall positive role for postal services and acts as an enabler and a driver for better services for consumers. However, not all consumers will be able to benefit to the same extent. The positive impact of innovations on consumers requires that consumers have network access, devices, and knowledge. It should be also noted that many of the (potential) delivery solutions are characterised by a major disparity between urban and rural areas. Most solutions are designed for densely populated areas, such as click and collect stores, parcel lockers or same-day deliveries. This leaves consumers in sparsely populated rural and remote regions at a disadvantage and/or facing surcharges for some kinds of delivery services. 

The full report as well as a summary is available for download. 

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