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UK etailers set to generate 2.2bn parcel deliveries a year by 2017

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UK online retailers will send out more than two billion parcels a year by 2017, new figures suggest.

A new study from etail trade association IMRG and Manhattan Associates suggests that the total number of parcel deliveries that originate from online retailers will rise by 70% to hit 2.2bn in 2017.

The total excludes two-man and grocery deliveries, but includes both order fulfillment and subsequent returns, based on a 22% industry average return rate. In 2012, the study estimates, 1.3bn etail parcel movements took place.

The report authors expect much of the growth will come as international deliveries increase. Some 72% of retailers already ship overseas, according to a study carried out by IMRG in March 2013, but for most that figure represents less than 10% of their total online sales. Notable exceptions include Asos , which earlier this week said that it was now shipping 61% of its deliveries overseas, and was expanding its Barnsley warehouse to enable further growth.

Andy Mulcahy, head of communications at IMRG, said: “The volumes of parcels and packages from Uk online retailer is forecast to continue to grow rapidly over the next few years and we further anticipate that by 2020 around one-third of online orders will be going cross-border in Europe.

“The UK’s online fulfillment infrastructure was intially set up to be very UK-centric, focusing on getting orders into the hands of domestic customers. As cross-border activity increases over the coming decade, with it will come a big shift in how stock is stored, managed, controlled and monitored to serve the requirements of the global consumer audience.”

Craig Sears-Black, managing director at Manhattan Associates, said: “The growth opportunity from selling products overseas and the ability to drive down supply chain cost through a more flexible sourcing strategy are both very real for enlightened retailers.

“Introducing systems-enabled best practice to their international operations allows retailers to create an agile and efficient supply chain that drives revenue and maximizes margins for cross-border selling.”

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