Online retail parcel volumes exceed forecast in 2015

Growth in online retail parcel volumes finished 2015 up +15.7% for the year as a whole – ahead of the +13% forecast at the beginning of the year, according to the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index.

After a slow start to the year, 2015 ended strongly as the UK’s e-logistics sector dispatched a record 1.065 billion parcels, of which an estimated 260 million were handled through the November / December peak trading period – this was around 10 million more than anticipated.

There was also a notable shift in trend in the month-on-month growth rate between November and December. Normally we see a sharp increase in the trend in November with that trend line steepening further as we move into December, but this year it flattened slightly – indicating that shoppers brought much of their Christmas spending forward in response to many retailers extending their Black Friday discount periods and moving them forward.

Despite the huge volumes moving through fulfilment operations during peak, the level of ‘on-time’ delivery performance remained in excess of 92% throughout the peak period – a record high for this time of year.

Andrew Starkey, head of e-logistics, IMRG: “After the issues caused by the unprecedented scale of the Black Friday weekend last year, it’s very encouraging to see just how efficiently fulfilment operations ran on the whole this year – with 92% of deliveries made on-time during peak, a significant improvement on 89% in the same period last year. It’s a testament to all the hard work that industry has put in over the past year.

Looking ahead to 2016 we see a number of key focus areas for fulfilment operations including improving returns management, creating new capacity including the wider adoption of 3rd party click & collect, better transparency for cross-border deliveries and wider provision of in-transit delivery information.”

Kees de Vos, chief product officer at MetaPack, said: “The profile of the peak period was entirely different to any previous year and highlighted just how important it is for both retailers and the carrier community to plan ahead, communicate and work closely in tandem. Customers took full advantage of flexible offers over a longer period of time, which could be fulfilled efficiently leading to enhanced customer service. As a result the industry didn’t just reach the record billion parcel mark, it smashed right through it.”



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

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