Cover Image

The return of envelopes in times of the Internet

January 20, 2020
Reading time: 3 minutes

With the beginning of the Internet era in the 1990s, many changes were seen coming. Employees would work mainly from home. Fast data lines would make it possible to do the work from anywhere.

There were also major changes in the letter post sector. Information would no longer be sent on physical data carriers, but mainly in virtual form, i.e. as e-mail.

Nevertheless, a development came differently than expected.

The dispatch of physical goods, on the other hand, has increased dramatically. Especially at peak times, such as Christmas, the delivery services are massively overloaded and try to cope with the flood of parcels.

Retailers often complain about the Internet and how it is destroying their business. But that is just the technical progress. From a macroeconomic perspective, this development is definitely positive.

From the customer's point of view, there are many advantages. The provision of information via the Internet enables them to obtain sufficient information, compare and make a purchase decision. The prices for buying on the Internet are hardly higher than for a shop in the city centre. This is also understandable. The shop owner has to pay high prices for rents in the city, while the mail order company can set up its warehouse in the countryside, where costs are much lower. Moreover, many products are self-explanatory, so the local retailer does not provide any added value in terms of advice. The time saved for the customer is also enormous. It takes me a maximum of five minutes to place an order on the Internet. Shopping in the city is much more time-consuming.

But there are also advantages on the business side. The increased shipping volume increases the demand for packaging material, such as cartons and air-cushioned bags (German: Luftpolstertaschen). The demand for delivery services makes the industry boom.

And it also benefits the environment. Whereas previously 100 people drove their cars into the city centre, now only one delivery service has to get the goods to the customers. This is good for the environment, reduces costs and allows people to spend their time more sensibly than standing in a queue in a department store or parking garage.

Seen globally, the effect is even stronger. Local suppliers of products at the other end of the world can now offer their products worldwide. I can still remember what an enormous effort it was to order video cassettes abroad in the 1980s. Today, it is no problem to order Chinese products with just a click of the mouse.

But there is one disadvantage I would not like to conceal: The shipping time. If you need your product quickly, you should go to a retail shop. But if you plan cleverly, you will save time, money and nerves.