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Tatjana Matić, Serbian Minister Of Trade, Tourism And Telecommunications

Huge Potential To Develop Postal Services

By investing in reliable e-commerce web platforms for postal operators, constructing logistics capacities and procuring delivery vehicles, but also opening new parcel warehouses and installing packaging machines, the conditions are created for Serbia to gain an even more developed postal services market

The volume of e-commerce grew exceptionally during the previous period. This has led to changes in both the operations of traditional retailers who responded to new trends and to the emergence of major e-commerce platforms such as, for example, Shopster and Ananas. “The development and increasingly commonplace applying of IT in everyday life has also impacted on changing the habits of consumers who are increasingly buying via the internet,” says Serbian Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Minister Tatjana Matić.

According to the data of the National Bank of Serbia, NBS, Serbia’s central bank, the number of payment transactions realised for the purchase of goods and services via the internet grew in 2020 by 103.76% in dinars (9.42% in euros) compared to 2019 and by 59.66% in dinars (35.12% in euros) in 2021 compared to 2020.

When it comes to the value of payment transactions realised for the purchase of goods and services via the internet, in 2020 the growth in dinars compared to 2019 was 81.46%, while there was a drop of 8.75% in euros, while in 2021 there was an increase of 72.37% in dinars and 78.51% in euros compared to 2020.

“Considering the fact that e-sales represent an extremely effective way of expanding business activities, companies are adapting to this trend, particularly large companies; almost all major companies have a website, while a somewhat lower percentage of medium-sized and small companies have one. In comparison to previous years, we see significant progress among small businesses in this sense. All told, use of websites by most companies in Serbia remains limited and primarily has an informative function,” says Matić, adding that the development of various platforms certainly represents a chance for small companies that often lack the capacity for online sales of their products.

We are simultaneously witnessing the emergence and expansion of a palette of postal services. From the perspective of your ministry, what is it important to provide for this segment of the market to develop, in terms of infrastructure?

– It is essential to secure the infrastructure for the further development of new commercial services, such as investments in processing centres nationwide in Serbia and in automated technologies for the processing and sorting of shipments. The aim of these activities is to enable the fast and high-quality processing of a large number of different types of shipments and to enable the directing of deliveries in the appropriate direction.

It is essential to secure the infrastructure for the further development of new commercial services, such as investments in processing centres nationwide in Serbia and in automated technologies for the processing and sorting of shipments

With this in mind, it is also essential to invest in new delivery vehicles, such as vans, green vehicles, mopeds and bicycles, but also in the opening of new parcel warehouses and the installing of packing machines in high-traffic areas, in order for users to more easily and quickly receive their deliveries.

Likewise, by informing citizens about the advantages of secure e-shopping via postal deliveries and investing in postal operators’ reliable web platforms for e-commerce, the conditions are created for an even more developed postal services market in Serbia.

How much is the e-commerce sector driving the development of logistics capacities?

– According to the World Bank report “Connecting to Compete”, Serbia ranked 65th in 2018 according to the LPI (Logistic performance index). This marks a significant improvement compared to 2016, when Serbia ranked 76th. Still, bearing in mind that logistics support is an essential element of e-commerce competitiveness, it remains essential to achieve significant development in this field.

Food delivery platforms and, to a lesser extent, platforms for passenger transportation, have stood out as separate segments. How do you classify them, given that they are intermediaries in trade and are very often registered as marketing companies or as part of the ICT sector?

Online platforms that are intermediaries in the provision of services are considered as providers of information society services in the sense of the Law on Electronic Commerce, or according to the EU Directive on Electronic Commerce with which our law is harmonised. According to the definition, an information society service is a service that is provided at a distance and encompasses, among other things, commerce via the internet and the enabling of electronic searches for services.

The arrival of large chains on the Serbian retail market has increased demand for labour, and we hope that further growth in competition will encourage the development of operations and increases in employees’ earnings

With this law, terms and principles in the field of electronic commerce are defined and the responsibility of information society service providers that mediate in the provision of services is regulated.

How often does your Postal Service Inspection Group have to respond to fraud in this field today?

– Unfortunately, fraud is still committed by unregistered traders, but that occurs much less frequently than it did during the period immediately before and during the Covid-19 pandemic. The constant work of all competent inspection bodies and institutions in the country, as well as the Department for Inspection Supervision in the domain of postal services, contributed to reducing occurrences of fraud.

According to the requirements of inspections and the competent authorities, such as the Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, these services receive essential data and evidence regarding those who commit fraud by advertising via social networks and delivering goods through postal operators. Our inspectors obtain data and evidence, but often also participate in joint inspections, such as those with the market inspection service, Ministry of Internal Affairs etc.

We are increasingly facing labour shortages in both trade and the postal transport sector. How concerning a problem has this become and how can it be solved? Is the solution in higher wages in this sector or reliance on foreign labour?

– This problem has been present in the sector of commerce for several years already. The arrival of large chains on the Serbian retail market has increased demand for labour, and we hope that further growth in competition will encourage the development of operations and increases in employees’ earnings.

Postal services are also short of labour, but the situation isn’t alarming. On the one hand, we have Public Enterprise Post of Serbia, which has over 13,000 employees and an open call for new employees on its website, as well as many work applicants. On the other hand, the private sector that deals exclusively with commercial services has to date resolved the shortage of direct service providers, such as couriers, by cancelling parcel deliveries on Saturdays, while unburdening delivery employees with the installing of packaging machines and the opening of parcel warehouses etc.

SUPPORT

The development of various online sales platforms represents a chance for small companies that often lack the capacity for online sales of their products

POTENTIAL

Bearing in mind that logistics support is an essential element of e-commerce competitiveness, it remains essential for Serbia to achieve significant development in this field

CONTROL

Although fraud is still committed by unregistered traders, it now occurs much less frequently thanks in part to the contribution of all competent inspection bodies and institutions

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