E-commerce can be a catalyst for private sector development, increased trading opportunities and development gains. However, poor logistics remain a barrier to e-commerce growth of cross-border e-commerce of physical goods in many developing countries.
E-commerce can expand markets and improve efficiency as it facilitates direct sales, thanks to digital platforms. Indeed, e-commerce enables closer customer relations among different actors:
||Transactions take place between businesses. Accounts for the bulk of e-commerce.
||Businesses sell their goods/services to consumers who are also the end-users of these goods/services. Channels to reach consumers include: social networks, crowd sourcing platforms, dedicated e-commerce websites and mobile applications.
||Consumers sell their goods/services to other consumers. It is like a modern version of classified ads in a newspaper or like going to an auction
|Consumer to business (G2B)
||Consumers post their offers (for goods/services) online (through an intermediary, for instance a portal), allowing businesses to buy these goods/services.
|Business to Government (B2G)
||Businesses sell goods/services to government entities, such as in public e-procurement
Transport and logistics as a critical factor to succeed in e-commerce
While Internet can help firms to export more, smooth transport of goods is imperative for both domestic and cross-border e-commerce. Well-functioning road transport, ports, postal delivery services and customs help ensuring effective order fulfilment. Inefficiencies in the logistics system, (encompassing freight transportation, warehousing, border clearance, and domestic postal delivery), increase trade costs of firms engaging in e-commerce, and particularly SMEs.
Measuring the performance of the transport and logistics sector, as an input for e-commerce
These findings are based on primary and secondary data. The primary data was collected through questionnaires and interviews aimed at measuring perception of diverse stakeholders (including private sector and other actors involved in international trade) regarding questions such as:
- What are the quality of logistics services for international delivery?
- Are customs procedures slow or burdensome?
- Do customers have access to postal services for last-mile delivery, and how reliable are they?
Quantitatively assessing the contribution and performance of the transport and logistics sector, as an input for e-commerce is difficult. This is because not all international parcel shipments are the result of e-commerce. Limitations exist to effectively isolate the component of deliveries that correspond to e-commerce. In addition, other data aspects complicate comparability. For example, private sector data sometimes combines letters and parcels; courier firms often use their proprietary names for traffic statistics that are occasionally vague about the nature of shipment; and data are often arbitrarily separated by factors such as whether parcels are insured, whether they are express, etc.