E-commerce: Certain impact, uncertain direction

That e-commerce is impacting the express and mail segments of air cargo is beyond dispute, but opinions vary greatly as to by how much and what the end result will be, with most agreeing it would be most unwise to underestimate its impact. Michael Mackey reports.

E-commerce: Certain impact uncertain direction

A strange animal, e-commerce has at the same time hurt and helped air cargo volumes. The main impact now is on the mail segment says Martina Goergen, head of airmail at the Lufthansa Cargo. “E-commerce is mainly influencing the mail segment. Smaller shipments of online retailers are sent either by integrators or as airmail. This growing segment is overcompensating the decline in standard written mails,” said Goergen in a statement for Payload Asia.

“Overall the mail business has seen good developments over the recent years with good growth rates,” she added. It is a strange thought that as written (at least on paper) communications such as letters and cards decline because of the Internet the (e-)commerce it creates more than fills the gap created by the decline. Less strange is that it looks clearly set to continue, or that its rate of growths is best described as eye-catching.

Another interesting precedent comes not from Asia, but from Europe. One of the things that was pointed out several times is that while e-commerce is relatively new it already has a strong base, but in developed markets such as parts of Europe and the US.

Interestingly one of the most developed markets is that of the United Kingdom where Internet shopping began in earnest just under ten years ago. Internet shopping in principle predates that by another decade, but as one published source noted between the start and the take-off there were some significant disruptions.