Lowest on-time delivery for online retail in December

Online retail delivery order volumes were up 17.2% year-on-year in December, according to the latest data from the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index, producing record volume for the peak period. This contrasted with low year-on-year growth for the same month in 2016 (only 2.4%) when there was a slow-down in growth between November and December which appeared to reflect the impact of Black Friday pulling a bulk of orders forward into November. In addition, the percentage of orders arriving on time fell to its lowest level (85%) since we started tracking it in 2011.

This year we saw 6% growth on November as the peak kept building up to Christmas.

The strong uplift in December was largely driven by a surge in demand in week three, with the Monday of that week (w/c 18 December) seeing particularly high demand – that day would appear to be becoming established as a major online shopping day, as it psychologically represents the last day that shoppers feel genuinely confident their orders will arrive on time.

That Monday is not the last day on which many retailers provide guarantee of delivery in time for Christmas, however, and the data suggests that the late spike in orders was driven by shoppers making last-minute purchases of single items or responding to promotions, as the bulk of the gift-buying is likely to have happened far earlier. Whereas in 2016 there was a 6% increase in the average order value for parcel deliveries between November and December, this year it fell by 10%.

Delivery quality of service was impacted in December, because orders arriving on time fell, however, there were a number of factors potentially influencing this.

Andrew Starkey, Head of e-Logistics, IMRG, explains: “December saw some extreme weather conditions across Scotland, Wales and northern England, which caused delays to movement of stock. It also featured record volumes for this period, including the late surge in orders that was higher than anticipated. Another key influence was the high use of next day delivery which puts additional pressure on delivery windows and, in some cases, is an example of businesses giving their customers something they haven’t specifically asked for. This option is often provided by default now by some retailers and, as many of these next day orders were not technically requested or required next day, the low on-time delivery rate is more noticeable to the retailer than the customer.”

Maria Dahlqvist Canton, Global Marketing Director, MetaPack, said: "The ecommerce market is growing at such a rapid pace, and the rise in delivery order volumes, not just during December, but over the whole of 2017, reflects this positive expansion. However, as consumer expectation is changing, and shoppers feel more confident to place their orders closer and closer to Christmas, it does mean that, even with excellent planning, it puts unprecedented pressure on both retailers and carriers to keep their delivery promise".


About the ‘IMRG Metapack UK Delivery Index’

The IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index has been designed to enable the e-retail industry to track a wide range of key benchmark metrics to enable organisations to benchmark performance, track trends and inform strategic decisions.

The information presented is aggregated from a consistent sample of MetaPack's extensive dataset so all retailers, carriers and other suppliers remain completely anonymous. While it is not possible to confirm whether the data is entirely representative of all retail sectors, by covering in excess of 200 retailers and an average of more than 5 million orders in any one month, we consider it to be a valid and highly reliable source.

About IMRG 

For over 20 years, IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) has been the voice of e-retail in the UK. We are a membership community comprising businesses of all sizes – multichannel and pureplay, SME and multinational, and solution providers to industry. 

We support our members through a range of activities – including market tracking and insight, benchmarking and best practice sharing. Our indexes provide in-depth intelligence on online sales, mobile sales, delivery trends and over 40 additional KPIs. 

Our goal is to ensure our members have the information and resources they need to succeed in rapidly-evolving markets – both domestically and internationally.

About MetaPack

Founded in 1999, the MetaPack Group provides eCommerce and multi-channel delivery technology to leading retailers. MetaPack's highly configurable platform looks after the customer delivery experience generating consumer trust and loyalty. The software connects shippers with parcel carriers, as well as a wide range of alternative delivery, collection and returns services. For more information, visit www.metapack.com

Press enquiries:

Tel: 020 3696 0980

Email: andy.mulcahy@imrg.org

Webinar Scroll Banner
Webinar Scroll Banner