Parcel volumes increase by nearly 50% on Black Friday

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Early global reports from the 2015 Black Friday weekend have shown a sharp increase in e-commerce activity compared with 2014, leading to a dramatic rise in the number of parcels being processed. According to research by UK e-tailer association IMRG and Experian, a record-breaking £1.1bn (US$1.6bn) was spent online on Black Friday in the UK alone.

MetaPack, a supplier of delivery management technology, reported that 963,754 parcels were processed across its e-commerce delivery platform on Black Friday, an increase of 46% compared with the 660,155 deliveries in 2014. Data also confirmed that 92% of packages delivered on Cyber Monday arrived on time, compared with 73% on the same day a year ago. MetaPack’s delivery management platform integrates 300 carriers and postal operators and 3,500 services enabling retailers to improve their delivery performance in more than 200 countries.

Patrick Wall, CEO at MetaPack, said, “Many records were broken over the Black Friday Weekend, but more importantly, it was the fast and efficient response of the retail and logistics industries that proved most significant. Thanks to the depth of preparation made by both retailers and carriers, the sharing of forecasts, and the adoption of multi-carrier contracts to cover the period, retailers were able to manage capacity and worked in tandem with carriers to clear orders. As a result, the quality of service for customers was maintained throughout, with carriers even providing additional services – including Sunday collections – to manage the increase in volumes and enable retailers to keep their delivery promises.”

Parcel management software company NetDespatch also saw similar trends in the number of orders being processed by its software as a service (SaaS) platform, which is used by more than 100,000 retailers worldwide.

Matthew Robertson, commercial director at NetDespatch, said, “The figures we are seeing fully support widely reported views that shoppers have now more than ever taken to buying goods online, ahead of going in-store. Cyber Monday was the busiest day in NetDespatch’s history and in fact was a massive 14% up on Black Friday. Even the days after Cyber Monday we are still seeing a peak of 1,800 orders being processed per minute on the NetDespatch platform.

“But the good news is that this year we have not seen the twin tsunami of last year’s peak days, instead retailers have spread out sales across the whole week, easing the strain on every part of the supply chain, enabling retailers to sell more, carriers to manage delivery expectations and consumers to continue to shop with confidence.

“With sales now extending into the first week of December, we expect not to see a dip in volume, but instead a ‘peak plateau’ carrying on towards Christmas,” concluded Robertson.

However, some stores in the UK have still struggled to cope with delivery demands. An article by news site Mail Online has listed multiple customer complaints regarding delayed deliveries from retailer Argos. On its Twitter page, the company has issued an apology stating, “We’re sorry for the delay in responding. Our hugely popular Black Friday Event and Fast Track delivery service are keeping the team busy. We have added extra staff and they are working through calls and emails as fast as possible. Thanks for your patience.”

In the Nordics, the number of parcels sent in connection with Black Friday increased by 48% when compared with 2014. That is according to a report by EDI-Soft, whose delivery management software CONSIGNOR is used by more than 10,000 companies in the Nordic region. The report showed that Norway experienced the biggest increase in the number of private parcels sent in the Nordics, with an 83% increase over 2014.

Sean Fleming, online retail expert and editor of eDelivery.net, said, “Black Friday’s appeal isn’t hard to identify – mega-promotions and discounts offering great deals online and in-store. What’s not to like? But for retailers it’s a slightly more nuanced affair. No one wants to miss out on sales, of course. But margins get squashed, and logistics operations come under enormous pressure; the cost of processing and delivering 40% more items than usual cannot be ignored. Retailers must prepare themselves in order to stay on top of things and not let customers down.

“What can go wrong on Black Friday is if carriers and retailers under-estimate the amount of demand, leading to a shortage of supply. This is a problem that has to be fixed; multi-channel retailers have to be able to keep the promise made to the customer. If they can’t, shoppers will go elsewhere. Whether the problem will be fixed by this time next year is impossible to say, but I hope that logistics are as big a focus – if not bigger – for retailers and carriers than great deals on Black Friday next year.”

In the USA, a report by software developer Adobe has shown that US$2.72bn was spent by online shoppers on Black Friday, 14% more than in 2014. The report is based on anonymous data from 150 million visits to 4,500 retail websites including 80% of all online transactions from the top 100 US retailers.

Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst, Adobe Digital Index, said, “US consumers have turned into digital shopping ninjas this holiday season as retailers continue to adjust to a huge influx of smartphone shoppers.”

December 2, 2015

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Helen has worked for UKi Media & Events for nearly a decade. She joined the company as assistant editor on Passenger Terminal World and since progressed to become editor of five publications, covering everything from aviation, logistics and e-commerce to meteorology. She has a love for travel and property and has redeveloped three houses in three years. When she’s not editing magazines, she’s running around after her two boys and their partner in crime, Pete the pug.

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