Innovation is the path to guaranteeing the future of the postal sector

ANACOM has organised a round table to mark World Post Day, held annually on 9 October. Innovation in the postal sector was the theme put forward for a debate involving Olivier Establet (Chronopost), Francisco de Lacerda (CTT), João Carlos Duarte, (Iberomail) and João Cadete de Matos (ANACOM). Proceedings were moderated by Rogério Carapuça, President of APDC.

As one the principal ideas emerging from the debate, it was recognised that the postal service must continue to respond to the needs of the population while ensuring sustainability. It is therefore important to find solutions which ensure that postal services reach everyone, wherever they may live, according to standards of quality. This is, in fact, one of the objectives of regulation: guaranteeing quality standards of the universal postal service in order to fulfil the needs of the population and to ensure the economic and financial viability of the universal service.

Innovation will play a central role, given the need to find solutions that make it possible to reconcile the various interests involved: ensuring that people receive their post, and at the same time ensuring that provision of the service remains economically viable. Solutions already tested in other markets, such as the establishment of community mailboxes, may provide a solution to overcome difficulties in ensuring the distribution of door-to-door postage delivery.

Competition will in itself be crucial for enhancing the quality of the service provided, with better solutions for consumers. This raises the question of the provision of access to the postal network.

However, while recognising the importance of continuing to ensure provision of the traditional postal service, all participants were unanimous in stating that future growth in the sector will be based on parcel traffic - a segment that is growing and is expected to offset the decline in traditional postage. To this end, innovative solutions have to be found, both in terms of parcel delivery and in terms of returns, especially because there is still a large margin of growth in this segment in Portugal - the big explosion in parcel traffic is yet to occur.

In this sense, operators are positioning themselves: e-commerce platforms are being set up, as more and more retailers are focus on online sales; there will be new delivery methods chosen by customers, such as very fast deliveries, made in a few hours or even minutes, deliveries made using autonomous and electric vehicles, in addition to a continued focus on pick-up points, which are already common.

The importance of big data systems was also highlighted by the speakers at the roundtable. They recognised that there is a vast set of information to be processed, allowing the creation of customised solutions. Emphasis was also placed on the importance of postal operators creating applications that allow customers to track their deliveries.

 Round table on ''Innovation in the postal sector'', Lisbon, 09.10.2018

From left to right: Rogério Carapuça, President of APDC; Olivier Establet, CEO of Chronopost; Francisco de Lacerda, CEO of CTT - Correios de Portugal; João Carlos Duarte, Director of Iberomail; João Cadete de Matos, Chairman of ANACOM's Board of Directors.