China to overtake USA as most valuable parcel market by 2019

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The latest report from UK-based market research firm Apex Insight has revealed that the global parcel delivery market generated US$350bn in 2017, up from US$310bn in 2016. Asia-Pacific is listed as the largest regional parcels market by value, accounting for around 40% of the global market. North America and Europe combined represented just over 50% of the market.

The Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2018 also found China to be the key growth market, representing almost 60% of the Asia-Pacific regional total by value. Chinese parcel volumes reached 31.2 billion in 2016, over 50% up on 2015.

As in previous years, the USA is still listed as the largest country market in value terms, although China has surpassed it in volume. In Europe, Germany remains the largest market with the UK having been the fastest-growing of the main countries (7% CAGR).

Global online sales approached US$2.3tn in 2017, having grown at a rate of 25% per year. The largest online retail country markets are the USA, UK, China and Japan. Growth is high in both emerging and developed economies, epitomized by China with online retail growth of more than 40% per year. Globally, online now accounts for just over 10% of total retail sales, up from around 5% in 2012.

Market trends

In response to the growth and demands of online retailers, a lot of effort is being put into developing better last-mile solutions, both by incumbent carriers, large retailers themselves, and other parties such as independent parcel shop and locker networks.

The report also found that leading online retailers, led by large marketplaces such as Amazon and Alibaba, are increasingly getting involved in delivery, reflecting the strategic importance of it to their business models. Their large volumes give them significant market power. Carriers are also investing in improving their information systems, both to provide better information on delivery to end customers and to improve their operational effectiveness.

Competitive landscape

The market is served by a combination of national postal operators, the global integrators and smaller, privately owned couriers. The integrators have a global market share of around 37% by revenue. Postal operators have around 24%, with other private sector carriers having the remaining 39%.


Apex Insight predicts that China will overtake the USA to become the largest market by value by 2019. The lack of exposure to the rapidly-growing Chinese domestic market means that the global share of the integrators is likely to continue to fall.

To obtain the full Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2018, click here.

January 16, 2018

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Dan originally joined Parcel and Postal Technology International in 2014 having spent the early years of his career in the recruitment industry. As online editor, he now produces daily content for the website and supports the editor with the publication of each exciting new issue. When he’s not reporting on the latest technological developments, Dan can be found on the golf course or apprehensively planning his next DIY project.

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