E-tailers facing festive delivery 'timebomb'

Parcelhub, a parcel delivery service which provides services for high volume business mail and parcels through multiple carriers, says e-tailers need to move quickly and think smarter if they are going to fulfil their delivery promises this Christmas season.

Last year saw courier firms hitting the headlines as higher-than-expected parcel volumes resulted in suspended services and missed deadlines. Shoppers spent £810 million on Black Friday; a 38% increase in online spending which generated 10 million parcels for the domestic delivery network to process. A further £1.2 billion was spent on Cyber Monday three days later and Manic Monday the following week.

Managing Director of Parcelhub, Mark Rosenberg, says although Christmas is definitely being discussed within the industry, too few sellers are thinking properly about their options - complacency which will almost certainly result in issues with delivery capacity later in the year.

"Nearly four times the number of shoppers are expected to place an order online on Black Friday this year compared to 2014 and this is predicted to increase parcel volumes by 15%. On top of this rise, remember that since the demise of City Link we're one carrier down too.

"It's a timebomb waiting to happen. Retailers need to start talking to their delivery partners about their predicted volumes so that there is time to adequately plan, balance demand and build flexibility into the schedules."

Many carriers are already asking their customers to accurately predict the volumes they will be sending over the peak trading period. However while previously forecasts may have covered a week or a month, this year retailers are being asked to predict daily volumes.

Mark added, "It is incredibly hard to forecast on a daily basis as small influences can have a big impact, for example the weather or a particular gifting craze. However once predicted volumes are reached, there is a strong likelihood that carriers will simply stop accepting more deliveries. If you're a small business relying on a single carrier, this is going to severely impact on your delivery times and customer service.

"Because Parcelhub uses multiple carriers, we are able to offer more flexibility – although I would still suggest that businesses need to think seriously about the level of service they are going to need. Interestingly more than three quarters of shoppers surveyed said they would be happy to wait a little longer for orders as long as they're kept informed about progress. Our software provides full parcel tracking and SMART notifications, so everyone is aware of delivery times and any exceptions."

Parcelhub currently handles parcel shipping for over 500 eCommerce, eBay and Amazon retailers, moving more than 350,000 parcels per month. Sister company Mail Workshop is the UK's leading bulk mailer and distribution provider working with brand managers, advertising agencies, printers and publishers. Together they employ 75 people at the Nottingham headquarters and three regional depots across the UK. Combined turnover is £12.72 million for 2014-15.

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