About UK Consumer and Small Business Parcels Services: C2X Parcels Market Insight Report 2019
What does the C2X parcels market report contain?
This report focuses on an important segment of the parcels market: services designed to carry parcels on behalf of consumers and individual traders and micro-businesses, such as small eBay, Gumtree or hobby-site sellers.
– Historical and forecast size and growth of the market from 2013-2023
– Evaluation of the role and positioning of the Royal Mail in the C2X segment
– Profiles of the other main service providers with our analysis of their performance and prospects
– Market share estimates
– Summary of the market evidence and analysis of the drivers on which our market views are based.
What are the sources and methodology?
The main sources for the report are
– Extensive desk research on the parcels market and its operators covering company accounts, websites and other sources.
– Published information on key market drivers such as economic data and estimates of home shopping levels and practices.
– Interviews with senior-level contacts in the market.
We have analysed this information to build our own market model, to support our forecasts and our views on the market
Changes since last year
Since last year’s edition, all areas of the report, including our forecasts have been reviewed and updated and, where appropriate, re-written to reflect latest market developments and new information which has come to light
Readers who have used previous versions of our report will note that this process has led to us making revisions to our estimates of the overall size of the segment and our forecast growth rates.
Who is it useful for?
The report is intended for parcels carriers and logistics groups, home-shopping retailers, operators of consumer / small business parcels service providers, potential entrants to the segment, investors, banks, analysts, consultants and other parties with interests in the area.
Consumer / Small Business Parcels Market Background
Consumers wishing to send occasional parcels have traditionally been served by the Royal Mail with customers taking their parcel to their local Post Office and queuing to send it.
Historically, other parcels carriers did not target small customers as this type of volume did not fit their business models, which rely on consolidation of pick-ups to obtain superior economics. This, plus the fixed costs of setting up and operating an account made small customers unprofitable.
However, other business models have now developed the ability to serve this segment, via an online presence and / or physical locations such as parcel shops or lockers without incurring the high fixed costs which previously made it unattractive.
Market size and growth
We believe that the consumer / small business parcels segment is now over 350m parcels per year.
It splits into two similar-sized parts:
– Returns of online purchases
– C2C parcels – which includes presents sent to friends and family and also fulfilment of items sold on marketplaces or hobby sites by non-professional or very small scale sellers.
Returns volumes are growing year by year, as home shopping increases, while C2C parcels are mature.
Market developments mean that the competitive advantages of the Royal Mail have evolved.
– It is no longer the only carrier with the necessary reach to serve the C2X segment.
– However, its universal service delivery network makes it extremely competitive for the delivery of small items to consumer addresses.
– This has led to changes in its pricing, as it has sought to retain or even grow its packet volumes but been prepared to trade off volumes of larger parcels, which are less profitable for it to handle.
– Hence, the pricing changes Royal Mail undertook in 2013 encouraged some marketplace sellers (with items of large dimensions) to find alternatives.
New models specifically focusing on the needs of this segment have emerged, such as:
– Networks, with collection and delivery points: lockers or manned locations such as convenience stores. Some are independent while others are aligned with a specific carrier. Examples include Collect+, Doddle, myHermes Parcel Shop, UPS Access Point, DPD Pickup and InPost.
– Brokers, operating consumer-facing websites which offer services from a range of carriers, typically at rates which would not be accessible to the consumer. Examples include Parcel2Go and Parcel Monkey.
– Carrier services, such as DHL UK’s ipostparcels service
Reflecting the price-sensitive nature of the C2X segment, several of these operators offer very keen pricing to consumers, although some, such as Collect+ and Doddle, have stepped back from price-driven competition for ‘send’ parcels to focus on the ‘returns’ segment.
Our research into pricing shows that:
– Royal Mail continues to be very competitive for lighter parcels (less than 1kg)
– InPost and MyHermes are the cheapest for larger parcels
– UPS is very competitive for next-day deliveries.
Many of the new models have achieved impressive growth rates, although most have slowed in the last couple of years, suggesting increasing maturity
We expect the market to grow in the future but at a modest rate with faster-growing returns volumes being balanced by more mature C2C parcels.
The Royal Mail’s key challenge continues to be to retain as much of the segment as possible in the face of increased competition
Key challenges for the newer players are:
– Networks must increase their scale to the point where they are a truly convenient option and have the capacity to deal with growth.
– Brokers must seek ways to increase the value that they add to contain the threat of disintermediation, for example by improving their customer service and partnering with carriers to run their direct site.