The Barbados Postal Service is being urged to cash in on the increase in online shopping and the benefits that can be derived through ecommerce.
Acting Minister of Home Affairs, Michael Lashley, made this call, while noting the post office had a clear advantage over other mail couriers when moving smaller parcels.
He was at the time delivering the feature address during the 19th Caribbean Postal Union Conference, held recently at the General Post Office headquarters.
Quoting figures from the World Trade Organisation, Mr. Lashley said cross border retail online sales reached US$1 billion in 2013, and will continue to accelerate as citizens purchased all types of merchandise from web retailers and online market places that ship across borders directly to countries.
“The rise of ecommerce and online shopping, especially cross border online shopping, has the potential to generate huge volumes of small packets that postal services around the world, including those in the region, are uniquely positioned to handle and deliver at low cost,” the Acting Home Affairs Minister said.
He added that at a time when the future of the postal service has come into question with the advent of the Internet, e-commerce has provided an excellent opportunity for post offices to remain in business.
“The Internet, despite its effectiveness in facilitating email and social media, online advertising, online bill payments and other digital communication tools that have negatively impacted postal revenues, is now offering new opportunities to the postal sector through the rapid growth of e-commerce,” he emphasised.
As a result, Minister Lashley urged officials to address existing bottlenecks or issues with Customs and other stakeholders. “Every effort must therefore be made by the Barbados Post Office to put in place the operational and legal framework that will allow this shift in focus to take place, and I can assure you that my Ministry will render whatever assistance is needed for you to bring about this change,” he assured.
However, while calling for postal services to tap into e-commerce and the online market, Mr. Lashley also urged them to consider themselves as being a part of the border system by ensuring the postal system was not used as a conduit for the importation and movement of contraband items.
Approximately 50 delegates, including nine ministers from around the region responsible for postal affairs, are attending the five-day conference to discuss a range of issues affecting postal administration in the Caribbean.