Improving parcel delivery services will boost eCommerce

As part of the digital single market we must work to improve parcel delivery systems, argues Olga Sehnalová.

By Olga Sehnalová

23 Sep 2015

Creating an integrated parcel delivery market is one of the principal conditions for the expansion of European eCommerce. It is therefore necessary to fully exploit its potential and to adopt rules for consumers and traders to benefit from an efficient and competitive service. 

Current figures show that consumers are willing to buy online, however, there are still many who are afraid to do so. It is the delivery of goods that (among other things) prevents greater development of eCommerce within the single market. 

There are several conditions that need to be satisfied to realise this growth. The first is the quality of the services provided. People expect to get the goods on time, undamaged and need the pricing and terms and conditions to be transparent. 


In case of damage or loss, the procedure by which customers return their goods must be easy to follow and clear. Consumers require practical solutions. These may include the option to agree on the date and method of delivery.

Another important factor for improving the quality of delivery is full traceability of shipment. Track and trace should be part of a standard set of information.

Current practice of operators to recode parcels makes it impossible to trace goods, which also makes potential complaints more difficult. A standardised code could be a possible solution.

There must be an undisputable guarantee of responsibility for the parcel and its delivery between trader and deliverer, especially when consumers decide to withdraw from the contract and return goods. The consumer must rely on an efficient system of handling complaints. Traders and delivery operators should be encouraged to joint alternative dispute resolution schemes.

More accessible prices for consumers and SMEs would also help increase volumes of eCommerce. Consumers often think twice before buying a product from abroad, despite lower prices, because of the high cost of delivery. 

Currently, cross-border parcel delivery is affected by different administrative fees within particular member states. I see a clear parallel with data roaming here, and I do not believe that within a functioning single market, these tariff differences are justified.

Last but not least, we need to improve delivery services to remote areas. The S&D group calls to introduce eDelivery services driven towards innovative solutions for a truly European delivery market and ensure that calculation costs for online deliveries are made more transparent.

We want to explore the possibility of creating EU trustmarks or eCommerce to ensure quality, reliability and environmental and social sustainability. We also want to ensure adequate working conditions for integrated delivery services and stimulate eRetailers and parcel firms to boost transparency.

The parcel delivery market is a very dynamic sector which has the potential to contribute to economic growth and employment across the European Union. 

Ensuring responsible employment conditions in the sector is a prerequisite for high-quality delivery services. The S&D group supports the development of both the digital single market and eCommerce. 

Nevertheless, strong consumer protection, high-quality services and responsible employment policies are necessary to develop a sustainable and innovative EU-wide eParcel delivery system for the benefit of consumers, workers and businesses.