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Nearly half of UK consumers think delivery services will get worse and more expensive, Quadient survey finds


UK consumers are beginning to lose faith in the reliability and convenience of home parcel deliveries according to research from Quadient, a provider of communication automation, parcel lockers and mail-related solutions

The survey found 47% of UK adults are worried that the way parcels are sent and received is not sustainable, and services will get worse and more expensive – citing experiences with missed or stolen deliveries; less safe neighbourhoods; the need to reduce emissions; and feeling pushed into unsatisfactory click-and-collect alternatives.

Consumers are open to alternatives to home delivery that can address these issues. For instance, consumers are willing to use “trip chaining” – i.e. combining a journey to a shop, library or other local amenity with picking up parcels, the report highlighted.

Given the option, consumers would replace on average 47 parcel deliveries or pick-ups a year by trip chaining: the equivalent of 1.4 billion miles a year driven by couriers across the UK.

The survey also found:

  • Missed and stolen deliveries: 36% of consumers have received a “sorry you were out” card for a delivery while they were still at home. 35% are more worried about parcel theft now than they were before the COVID pandemic – understandable when police data shows parcel theft increased by 300% in three years.
  • Environmental obligations: 31% of consumers feel under pressure to have fewer parcels delivered for economic and environmental reasons, but lack an alternative.
  • Click & collect not meeting expectations: 45% say existing click-and-collect services – e.g. picking orders up from a customer service or dedicated counter – are too frustrating to use regularly, reducing its attractiveness as an alternative to home delivery.

“Home parcel deliveries are an essential lifeline to many people, and despite poor experiences, they are still a vital part of the retail economy,” said Katia Bourgeais-Crémel, EVP parcel locker solutions Europe at Quadient.

“However, it’s clear the expectations that have built up around fast, free, anytime delivery and even return of parcels aren’t sustainable, either for businesses or for the environment. Instead we need an entire ecosystem that will allow people to order, receive and return parcels at their convenience, without committing to an unsustainable business model. The right mix of options will give people the convenience they need, reduce emissions, improve neighbourhoods, and create new opportunities for businesses.”

As an alternative to traditional home deliveries or click-and-collect counters, 72% of consumers are open to using smart, secure parcel lockers. These solutions can be installed in residential and office buildings, simplifying home delivery, in stores or in public areas on the street. With respondents receiving an average of 72 parcels a year to their home, and sending 36 via couriers, adopting lockers could make trip-chaining simpler for consumers.

With online shopping and returns increasing sharply during the pandemic, consumers have grown to expect free, fast delivery, at a convenient time, and in many cases to even return items from their door at no charge. However, many retailers and carriers have found that offering these services is no longer sustainable, resulting in a perceived drop in service quality. 53% of consumers noted that retailers’ delivery options are becoming less generous, for instance with fewer retailers offering free delivery without the buyer spending a large amount, or receiving deliveries at inconvenient times.

At the same time, the fractured nature of deliveries and collections – with many different companies offering different levels of services and using proprietary pick-up and drop-off locations – is preventing greater uptake. For instance, 38% of consumers would like to use parcel lockers but their closest options are only used by one company, making them less practical.

The report also stressed that organisations are missing out on benefits including a boost to businesses. Hosting parcel lockers could increase footfall to retailers and encourage spending. At least 54% of consumers would make extra purchases when picking up a parcel from a locker at a retailer, spending up to £705 a year – the equivalent of £13.7bn across the UK.

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