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Online delivery rises ahead of forecast in 2015, with faster growth still to come this Christmas

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Online deliveries are growing ahead of forecasts for the first time in 2015, according to new IMRG figures.

Analysis from the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index suggests that online deliveries have recovered after a slow start. Now, for the first time, growth in the year-so-far has exceeded the index’s forecast at the start of the year.

In August, growth in the year-to-date hit 13%, coming level with the IMRG/MetaPack forecast for the whole of 2015. Now, figures show growth so far this year of 13.6%, after a September in which order volumes grew by 18.9% ahead of the same time last year. Fast growth in the lead-up to Christmas could take the final figure well ahead of that.

“We know that major UK online retailers are anticipating strong growth over Q4, perhaps as much as 20% year-on-year for the quarter,” said Andrew Starkey, elogistics manager for IMRG. “This will include upturns of circa 30% or more over the super-peak days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.The growth rate in order volumes this month is approaching this 20% figure and suggests we could be heading for a big final quarter, perhaps fuelled by the mild September and October we have had which may have suppressed sales of winter fashion lines and could increase the volumes of discounted stock available over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period. While a lot of work has gone into preparing for peak by the logistics industry, variables such as the weather can impact the size and scale of peak, so this is one area for industry to monitor closely.”

Kees de Vos, chief product and marketing officer at MetaPack , said: “It is great to see that we are now exceeding the growth forecast. Our observation is that retailers, carriers and delivery services have already put frameworks in place for the peak period, which will enable them to manage what could be a four-fold increase in orders. As such we are better positioned to maximise the massive opportunity that it affords us all and really boost delivery volumes in the final quarter of the year.”

Elsewhere, parcel collection point business Doddle is preparing for the number of packages coming through its network to rise by up to 600% in peak weeks ahead of Christmas, compared to a normal week.

“We think the growth in our own volumes will come from consumers who want to kick the Christmas Grinch of missed deliveries,” said Doddle chief executive Tim Robinson. “Whilst one hour delivery windows for food are becoming commonplace, shoppers still want more solutions that help them manage their precious time and avoid the inconvenience of having to wait in for their stuff or chase a delivery they missed.

“Everyone has been prepping for the mega online shopping event, Black Friday, with more tech and more muscle. In fact in just the last few weeks we’ve heard that Royal Mail and Amazon are taking on 19,000 new employees each, Yodel is recruiting 7,000 additional van drivers and DPD have built a £100m parcel superhub. All of this suggests the industry is in good shape.”

Robinson suggests that retailers will start cutting prices up to two weeks ahead of Black Friday.

“At Doddle we think the spike is going to start sooner than expected. Retailers are likely to discount earlier than Black Friday but spread the offers over a longer period of time to try and avoid the cataclysmic spike that occurred last year.

“Last Christmas customers voted with their feet with 39% of online shoppers opting to use click and collect rather than wait in for a delivery. This year we expect to see exponential growth in click and collect volumes and we’re happy to be part of the solution that helps shoppers to kick the Grinch.”

Image: Royal Mail

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