Delivering Parcels In The 21st Century

With the online retail boom showing no signs of slowing down, Louise Ryan, strategy & business development director at Pass My Parcel looks at the benefits new delivery models are bringing to consumers and businesses alike.

Online sales topped in-store purchases for the first time in 2016. Boosted by events including Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, online spending reached a record £133 billion, an impressive 16 per cent rise on the previous year. It’s unsurprising that retailers are doing all they can to take full advantage of the change in consumer spending habits, but with additional online sales comes the growing demand for more rapid and same day delivery services.

Unless a carrier is able to guarantee a narrow, accurate delivery window, it is increasingly more likely that delivering to home will be inconvenient for today’s average customer. Spending time trying to rearrange a convenient delivery slot or standing in the local depot queue for a failed parcel delivery attempt are frustrations we have all encountered and could do without.

Delivering to the workplace is not an option for many, as businesses are wising up to the practice and clamping down on personal deliveries, which can put unnecessary additional demands on company receptions. Furthermore, for those living in city centre apartments, the need for a secure pick up is often mandatory as they are unlikely to have a ‘safe space’ such as a porch or neighbour to leave a delivery with.

A growing solution to these issues is the proliferation of small grocery stores offering pick up and drop off facilities. These can provide customers with the option of collecting goods or returning unwanted items when it suits them – such as on their way to or from work, or during their lunch break. The queuing time is often far less than at the local sorting office, too. Pass My Parcel currently works with 3,500 parcel shops across the country, accessible to 93 per cent of the UK mainland population.

Parcels can be delivered to shops at 7am the day after ordering, as convenience stores are usually open and trading before breakfast. They also provide a more secure option for the consumer over leaving in an outhouse or with a next-door neighbour, as is often the case for home deliveries when the customer is not in.

The arrangement also has benefits that extend beyond those for the online retailer and its customer. As well as the attractive handling fees paid to convenience stores for providing the parcel shop service, the extra footfall is likely to translate into an increase in sales for them. Customers can couple their collection with the purchase of a pint of milk, a newspaper, or more. The additional parcel shop function that the stores have taken on has arguably given this sector a new lease of life.

In the fast-paced, competitive retail environment, the hunt for the next big thing in the customer experience is constant, with innovations in the parcel delivery industry playing a key role. Demand for same-day delivery is ever increasing, and many retailers are coming to expect real-time parcel status reporting for their customers.

From hassle reducing solutions such as label-less returns, to the flexibility of 24-hour drop-offs, online retailers are forever hungry to get one step ahead of the competition. Last year even saw the announcement of a government-endorsed trial of small parcel delivery by drone.

Another innovation in the industry may come in the form of keycoded deposit boxes at customer’s homes, or GPS tracking of your parcel en route to its destination.

Whatever the next revolution for our sector is, one thing is clear; delivery companies must constantly seek ways to innovate and add value to the service they offer, in order to capture the imagination, and retain the business, of their online retail clients.

Launched in 2014, Pass My Parcel is part of Smiths News, the UK’s leading newspaper and magazine wholesaler. It offers fast, secure and convenient deliveries to both domestic and commercial customers, including Amazon and ASOS. For further details visit www.passmyparcel.com.