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Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions caused ‘online tsunami’ of demand that overwhelmed retailers and logistics providers: report

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions led to an “online tsunami” of ecommerce orders fuelled by pent-up consumer demand, according to new research from the IMRG and MetaPack. Lessons, it predicts, will be learned ahead of next year.

The November 2014 IMRG MetaPack Delivery Index confirmed that the Christmas delivery season started well in November, with 93% of online deliveries made, or attempted, on time that month. But traders and logistics businesses, it suggests, were overwhelmed by the sheer force of demand over the cyber weekend.

“The extensive promotion of Black Friday and Cyber Monday created an online tsunami as shoppers held back their orders in the week prior to the ‘super sales’ weekend,” the IMRG and MetaPack report said today.

Unprecedented traffic and order volumes led to some retailers being unable to fulfil orders fast enough, causing knock-on delays in sending out parcels. After that, says the report, some carriers struggled to cope with “an overwhelming short-term demand,” causing delays that “may counteract November’s excellent earlier service results.” Nonetheless, it says, most orders will be delivered in time for Christmas.

Andrew Starkey, head of e-logistics at IMRG , said: “The Black Friday and Cyber Monday problems may have dented some consumers’ confidence but we should all appreciate that the short-term spike was exceptional and unprecedented. I have no doubt that retailers and their supply partners will review the impact of ‘super sales’ days in the run up to Christmas and will learn the lessons for next year.”

By the end of November, the Index shows, UK e-tailers had already dispatched more parcels than they did in the whole of last year.

Cross-border deliveries are also on the rise. In November alone, the IMRG MetaPack analysis suggests, just under 20m orders were sent abroad, compared to 18.2m last year.

Angela O’Connell, strategy and marketing director at MetaPack , said the year was ending on record highs in customer demand for both home and alternative delivery methods. “This,” she said, “has been enabled by collaboration by retailers and carriers on a wide range of delivery improvements and innovations.”

She added: “There are always going to be lessons to be learnt for next year’s peak, but the industry is responding well to recent challenges and opportunities. What’s striking about the November index is how it reveals the continuing appeal of UK ecommerce to international online shoppers who are shopping here in even higher volumes than 2013, partly because they have confidence in the industry to deliver overseas.”

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