ParcelLab – not all e-retail boomed in pandemic

Operations experience platform ParcelLab has published research showing that 19% of UK retailers had to suspend deliveries during the pandemic. This is despite the pandemic apparently making for good e-commerce business conditions.


The research is published in the report, ‘Operations Experience 2021 – How Does UK Retail Measure Up?’ that looked at 150 of the UK’s leading online retailers. As a result of the pandemic, 57% offer three alternative delivery choices, while 23% offer four or more.

The UK e-commerce market has grown by 46% in the last year according to the government’s ONS. However, 19% had to suspend deliveries thanks to operational issues such as social distancing, staff shortages in warehouses, and not having the flexibility to grow thanks to contractual limitations with their third party logistics (3PL) providers.

A key missed opportunity showed in the ParcelLab report was online retailers not using pick-up/drop-off (PUDO) services such as click-and-collect and parcel lockers. Just 4% used these. Where a click-and-collect service is offered in an essential store that is open during lockdown, so there will be a delivery opportunity for the online retailer. As an example of good practice, online electrical retailer AO.com announced a partnership with Tesco in October while Argos has been offering click-and-collect through Sainsbury’s supermarkets.

Tobias Buxhoidt, Co-Founder and CEO of parcelLab, commented: “Retail businesses have had to pivot fast to ensure the capabilities of their own logistics networks can keep up with the booming demand for e-commerce during the pandemic, which has been amplified once more with Lockdown 3.  And while they’ve made herculean efforts to extended delivery options, both in-house and via 3PLs, almost a fifth are still seeing disruption to alternative delivery options that are available to shoppers.”

“Friction in fulfilment was a problem for retailers before the pandemic, but now – especially when online is the main channel serving customers and communities – shoppers are even more likely to abandon a purchase – or, worse, lose loyalty with a brand – if they aren’t offered convenient delivery experiences and choices for fulfilment that meet their needs,” he concluded.

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