In its second annual Parcel Shipping Index, Pitney Bowes announced a 48% increase in global parcel volume over the last two years. Parcel volume has grown from 44 billion parcels in 2014 to 65 billion in 2016, and the increase in growth shows no signs of slowing down, with the index estimating parcel growth will continue to rise at a rate of 17-28% each year between 2017 and 2021.

The index measures parcel volume and spend for business-to-business, business-to-consumer, consumer-to-business, and consumer-consigned shipments with weight up to 70 pounds (31.5 kg), across 13 major markets, including: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

China, a new addition to this year’s index and by far the largest market examined, grew parcel volume by 52% in one year, increasing from 21 billion parcels in 2015 to 31 billion in 2016. But, even when excluding China’s prolific volumes, the index forecasts a strong and accelerating pace of growth in parcels throughout the world. On average, the other 12 major markets studied have grown 4.3% annually since 2012 and are projected to grow 4.5%-5.4% annually through 2021.

The United States (at 13 billion) and Japan (at nine billion) were also among the largest markets by parcel volume. In terms of investment, the United States ranked highest, spending $96 billion on parcel shipments, followed by China at $60 billion and Japan at $22 billion.

“The continued rise of e-commerce globally is keeping the parcel shipping market strong through 2021 as consumers are increasingly looking to online shopping for convenience, price, and availability of products from around the world,” said Lila Snyder, executive vice president and president, Global Ecommerce, Pitney Bowes. “As consumer expectations continue to rise, shipping technology and service providers will need to help retailers and marketplaces meet those demands.”

Results from the index point to rapid growth and last-mile delivery challenges — when a parcel is transported from a hub to the end-user — as driving innovation across markets. New trends and emerging technologies — such as parcel lockers, crowd-shipping, on-demand delivery services, evening and weekend delivery, and drones — are impacting the customer shipping experience by shortening delivery times, lowering delivery costs, and adding flexibility.

“Managing the growing demands and navigating the evolving landscape of parcel shipping can be complicated for organizations of all sizes, from large enterprises to small businesses,” said Mark Shearer, executive vice president and president, Global SMB Solutions, Pitney Bowes. “Digital transformation of a company’s shipping workflow — like the integration of SaaS-based multi-carrier platforms — can help to better enable carrier, timing, and cost efficiencies for companies, as well as improve customer experiences through the addition of tracking capabilities, simplifying and streamlining processes for both senders and recipients.”

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