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What does the latest research say about how customers now value delivery as online shopping expands?

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We round up the latest delivery research and news to find out what customers now value about delivery at a time when ecommerce has expanded enormously during the Covid-19 pandemic, and as shopping behaviour shifts further online. 

The importance of speed and cost – and sustainability

Shoppers say the cost and speed of delivery are the two most important factors that they take into account when buying online – but a significant minority would consider slower delivery and paying more in order to make their delivery more sustainable, a new report suggests.

The Ecommerce Delivery Benchmark Report 2021, researched by RetailX for Metapack, questioned 10,000 shoppers in five key markets including the UK at the end of 2020. It found that 78% said they had shopped more online since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic – including 48% who had shopped a little more, and 30% who had shopped much more – and that 87% of those respondents said they would continue to do more of their shopping online. Almost two-thirds (64%) said they would continue to make the same number of visits to physical stores in 2021 – but almost a third (31%) said they would make fewer visits, and only 6% said they would visit more often. 

Some 82% said that home delivery was their favoured fulfilment channel for an online delivery, followed by collection from a store (9%), a collection point (8%) and a locker (2%). Asked what factors they most valued in their deliveries, cost (35%) and speed (33%) were the two single most important. But 32% said that they value sustainability more than cost and speed; almost half (47%) said they would consider a longer delivery time for more sustainable delivery, and a similar proportion (48%) that they would opt for a single day for deliveries, while 23% would pay more. 

Bruce Fair, chief revenue officer at Metapack, says: “The coronavirus may have fast-tracked the so-called All-Delivery economy, but it can’t take credit for the long-term growth ecommerce will almost certainly retain. Online shopping will remain popular for the same reason it always has: because it’s convenient.”

He adds: “Competition is growing at the same time as retention is shrinking. In the All-Delivery economy, delivery experience is the most important differentiator.”

A second survey questioned InternetRetailing subscribers on their top priorities and approaches for 2021. Some 46% said they expected consumers to cover most of the cost of greater sustainability, and 37% said that was down to the retailer – and 17% the carrier. There was a roughly two-thirds/one-third split favouring reusable packaging (65%) over plastic (35%). 

More shoppers sign up for retail subscriptions

Nearly one in five (17%) say they have signed up for a monthly subscription service for products, according to a new study from Emarsys. 

Food subscription services (29%) are the most popular, followed by beauty and grooming (20%), alcohol (10%) and health and fitness products (9%). Subscriptions to digital services such as Netflix and Spotify are also popular, with 34% of those aged 16 to 24 signing up to one. 

Chris Godderich, VP mobile at Emarsys, said: “Part of the reason both physical and digital subscriptions have done well is because most of them are delivered through a mobile app — and consumers have become even more attached to their mobile devices during lockdown.

“The challenge for brands that offer these services now though is to retain these new customers once lockdown restricts lift. The key to doing that is to remain relevant to those customers, which means personalisation, personalisation, personalisation. Traditionally, offering a personalised experience on mobile was challenging, but now technology exists that can help brands offer a one-to-one tailored experience for each and every customer based on their exact preferences and needs.”

More than 70% of Hermes couriers expected to be ‘self-employed plus’ by June

More than 70% of Hermes couriers are expected to work for the delivery company on a self-employed plus basis by the end of June. That would mean that about 20,000 couriers have shifted to the new way of working, developed in 2019 by the GMB and Hermes in order to give rights including paid holiday and guaranteed minimum payment rates to self-employed gig economy workers. 

The update comes as Hermes and the GMB have agreed a new deal for self-employed plus workers, including increased payments for services including parcel collections. 

Martijn de Lange, chief executive of Hermes UK, said: “When we announced our deal in 2019 we committed to continuing to develop our support for the rights of self- employed workers. Independent research shows that over three quarters of our SE+ couriers believe that their health and wellbeing has improved as a result of having paid holidays.  This is particularly important given the challenging events of the past year where they have played a vital role in ensuring that people have been able to get essential items delivered safely.”

Mick Rix, GMB national officer, says: “Hermes is continuing to show other companies that looking after those who work for you is not just the right thing to do, it’s good for business. Couriers now have a real voice in their workplace and the right to take holidays and the right to guaranteed pay. These are basic rights that the GMB has fought hard for on behalf of members and the continuing evolvement of this deal shows the gig economy doesn’t have to rip off workers and that exploitative employers need to sit up and take notice.”

Royal Mail promotes wider take-up of  Parcel Collect service

The Royal Mail is now offering to pick up five parcels a day from customers’ homes for free as it promotes its Parcel Collect service. 

The offer saves users the pick-up charge of 72p per parcel, or 60p for a pre-paid return, until May 30, as long as they have bought their postage online or via the Royal Mail app beforehand. 

Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at Royal Mail, says: “The introduction of Parcel Collect has been incredibly successful. This promotion is an opportunity for all consumers across the UK to try out this fantastic service free of charge. Parcel Collect is part of our commitment to continuously make our services more convenient as we re-invent the way we deliver to and from our customers.”

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