E-commerce is here to stay. The Internet eliminated the physical barriers of trade, placing within consumers’ reach products from the opposite end of the world from the most diverse locations. However, there’s no point to buying something with the comfort of a simple click if poor transport coordination delayes delivery: thus the importance of logistics.
According to the article from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development – UNCTAD- “The role of transport and logistics in promoting e-commerce in developing countries,” by Luisa Rodríguez, the main obstacle in the development of e-commerce is weak logistics. In the text, the author explores some of the challenges in this area according to the Rapid e-Trade Readiness Assessments of Least-Developed Countries (LDCs).
While the Internet can help companies increase their exports, sales need adquately coordinated transport in order to prosper. Land transport, ports, postal delivery services and customs are crucial when it comest to acheive a successful delivery. Inefficiencies in the logistcis system (cargo transport, storage, cross- border and domestic postal delivery), increase commercial costs for e-commerce companies. Therefore, a weak logisctis network becomes a barrier for the proper development of e-commerce, especially in developing countries.
Challenges on the horizon
The article mentions three main challenges to overcome in order to optimize e-commerce development. The first of them is logistical and transport infrastructure, where the main obstacle is the lack of investment, especially in extraurban zones and the poor solutions for bottlenecks in port areas.
The second dimension of the mentioned challenges is the access to quality services under competitive conditions. The lack of delivery services –public or private- with the ability to provide wide geographical coverage and along with swift, trustworthy and traceable delivery. This also considers the lack of a national registry of shipments for a reliable parcel tracking and increase competitivity among private and public couriers.
Efficiency of customs and border clearance procedures (Trade Facilitation) is the third dimension. To achieve improvement in this area it is necessary to boost customs clearance processes by streamlining business processes and taxation.
Despite the fact that the article analyzed the especific cases of Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao, Liberia, Myanmar, Nepal and Samoa, described difficulties can be found in other countries where e-commerce is in need of optimization.
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