IDC: European E-Fulfilment Market to Reach US $3.7 Billion by 2003

[London, ENGLAND] The e-fulfilment market in Europe will reach
US $3.7 billion by 2003, according to an iForce-sponsored IDC
white paper, published Monday.

Entitled “The Growing Role for e-Fulfilment Specialists –
Delivering in a Wired Marketplace,” the paper says the only
factor likely to inhibit growth is a failure to satisfy the
customer.

Matthew Peacock, group chief executive of e-fulfilment business
iForce, explained how the service differed radically from
traditional fulfilment.

“‘Few to many’ requires a specialist approach to all aspects
of the customer delivery and service process; such as more
flexibility on order management, highly responsive customer
service throughout the process, and faster and tighter
timeslots for delivery,” said Peacock.

Peacock went on to say that enhanced customer service requires
a transparent tracking process to keep customers in touch with
their orders whilst being able to handle alterations and returns.
One key requirement, Peacock said, is for customers to be able
to talk to service people through multiple channels – phone,
fax, Web and online chat.

In 1999, the outsourced e-fulfilment market in Europe stood at
just US $244 million. Currently, around 20 percent of e-fulfilment
activities are outsourced, compared to an estimated 33.2 percent
in 2003.

IDC’s white paper also makes estimates for the growth of online
purchasing in Western Europe, saying it will expand from
US $10 billion in 1999 to $125.3 billion dollars in 2003.

In many of the reported figures, IDC appears to be more precise
in its estimates than in quoting historical data. However,
in examining costs it takes both figures to one decimal place.
E-fulfilment costs, says IDC, will fall from 24.6 percent of
Internet commerce revenue in 1999 to 22.3 percent in 2003.

E-fulfilment is the key to customer satisfaction in B2C
e-commerce — and it is not just about delivering goods,
according to Matthew Peacock. “Customers who receive poor
service from e-tailers don’t come back,” he said.

In the U.K., e-fulfilment services are being offered via
some unusual means of transportation including milk floats.
E-fulfilment company M-box is working with Express Dairies
who carry packages with the early morning milk deliveries.
This weekend, M-box also announced another deal
with courier network Addison Lee, offering 2-hour deliveries
in the Greater London area.

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