The Growing Importance of E-Commerce as a New Trend Factor Shaping in Rail Transport between Asia and Europe
Purpose: The aim of this research is to assess and discuss the impact of the growing importance of e-commerce on increasing rail transport between Asia and Europe. Design/Methodology/Approach: The starting point for the study is the importance of East Asian countries (especially China) as suppliers of goods in the global economy. The European Union is the second largest sales market in the world. Economic exchange between them increases as a result of the popularization of e-commerce and its constant growth. Quantitative data related to the share of e-commerce in total retail sales, transport data from the rail transport market, published by operators and transport companies, have been used. The analysis of trends in the volume of loads handled by rail carriers in selected trade cycles was also used. Findings: The constant increase in the popularity of online shopping, determinates e-commerce impact on the transcontinental rail forwards. A remarkable increase of importance of container transport by rail is noticeable. Branch transport markets struggle with various problems of different scale and origin, which periodically weaken their position in supply chains. Rail transport between the Asian and European Union markets shows an upward trend even in periods when competing modes of transport (sea, air) show a decline. E-commerce affects the number of containers connections along the Eurasian corridors. Practical Implications: Optimization of deliveries consider the factor of time and unit costs as one of the key factors in the efficiency of the supply chain. Consequently, improving service quality is a decisive factor in the competitive advantage of e-commerce enterprises. The identification of upward trends in Trans-Eurasian rail transport is desirable from the point of view of the organization of supply chains and is justified by pro-environmental premises. Data can be compared with other transport branch. Originality/Value: The study deals with an important aspect of international exchange and the relationship between key markets. It is based on data that additionally includes trends in a specific period (the coronavirus epidemic caused changes on a global scale). The results may contribute to the reconfiguration of parts of the supply chains and their optimization.