IMRG Christmas Delivery Review 2010

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The IMRG have just published the IMRG Christmas Delivery Review 2010*, which says “Even with the extreme challenges brought by the weather, overall the e-retail sector still performed above expectation and, despite some suggestions to the contrary, the vast majority of orders dispatched before Christmas arrived in time for the big day”.

The highlight is that “Despite the worst pre-Christmas weather in 100 years we estimate that of the 60 million orders dispatched during December, the number not delivered, or where no delivery attempt had been made before Christmas Day, was as low as 275,000.” That’s pretty encouraging news and doesn’t uphold what appears the popular view that carriers failed to delivery huge quantities of orders.

More disheartening is that that “perhaps 4.9 million orders (5.24 million packages and parcels) that may otherwise have been dispatched before Christmas, did not go out due to weather related supply chain issues or because shoppers returned to the High Street for the for the last few days before Christmas”. This is a lot of lost business of online retailers.

The report goes on to examine delivery volumes for some of the main carriers including: Royal Mail, Hermes, Docdata, Yodel (HDNL and DHL Domestic), Parcelforce, iForce, ByBox and Collect+. They also look at delivery performance and although normal on-time delivery attempts are 95.1% in December this fell to 88.9%. However less than 1% of deliveries were undelivered or not attempted prior to Christmas.

The report also looks at where couriers could perform better and particularly notes that the most useful were those, like Hermes, which provided a postcode breakdown of the areas affected. Keeping retailers informed of delivery bottlenecks is seen as critical so that they can keep customers informed. Suspending sales to certain parts of the country enables retailers to continue shipping to those area where there were no or minimal delays due to snow.

Best practises for retailers in the future includes having the ability to switch dynamically between carriers and selecting couriers based on delivery capability will give orders the best chance of delivery. Bringing forward the last dispatch day and last order day are essential if deliveries can’t be guaranteed. Providing alternative delivery points using couriers such as Collect+, who can deliver to local shops or garages, and carriers such as Royal Mail who allow local collections from Post Offices, can assist in getting parcels to areas where deliveries simply aren’t possible.

Finally the report highlights that many carriers and their employees went out of their way to make sure parcels were delivered. These include:

  • The Royal Mail postal worker in Brecon who went out on his own tractor to deliver parcels.
  • Hermes reporting that it was being used by other carriers to undertake the final delivery because its local couriers could get to places that others could not.
  • Other solutions allowing customers to get their Christmas orders right up to the last minute.
  • Collect+ reported that it handed over its final pre-Christmas parcel at 21:30 on Christmas Eve.
  • ByBox provided a delivery and collection service on Christmas and Boxing Day, with record of some consumers opting to collect goods on Christmas morning!
  • Parcelforce asked all employees with 4×4 vehicles to help with deliveries in areas where vans could not enter

*The full report is available to IMRG members on the IMRG website

10 Responses

  1. Talking just eBay, their efforts to emphasise Special Delivery and other Express Services from very early in the Christmas period could have made their sellers hostage to fortune by encouraging buyers to leave buying decisions to last minute.

    Just as the (old) Post Office used to encourage ‘Post Early for Christmas’ online retailers such as eBay should encourage ‘eBay early for Christmas’.

    After all the best bargains go early, don’t they?

  2. Having read all the previous postings concerned with deliveries affected by the snow and cold during December I would guess that there will be many who have doubts about this report. However there is a school of thought that we are going into a period where each winter is worse than the preceeding winter. Thus Winter 2011/12 will be worse than Winter 2010/2011 and 2012/13 worse than 2011/12 etc. So it is important that ALL of the delivery companies take a very close look at their achievements and in fact failings during this winter and come up with a contingency plan if the projected bad winters are as bad as expected. So what will be involved? Well perhaps they should all contact their opposite numbers in such places as Canada and Scandinavia and pick their brains. After all we cannot have another winter where there were so many reported problems and the Royal Mail and the Couriers all going round saying “We did not expect a bad winter-It caught us out”. Every user of either the Royal Mail or the Couriers deserves to know that there are systems in place that can overcome the problems if as expected they arise next winter and the one after that and the one after that. They must not be caught out again.

  3. I have said before, I go into our local citylink depot freqently & in the middle of January it was like a war zone.

    Cages everwhere with backlogs of packets & 1 driver said, they had been completely overwelmed by the snow.
    He also said Fedex only got back to ‘normal’ in mid January.

  4. Jez, We had them review our account whilst we were on the phone to them, had quite a few FB’s removed and associated low DSR’s.

    Only took about 15 minutes, try it.

  5. This report does not include international deliveries which were affected much more severely. It also does not include items sent just before Christmas and the remainder of December which also suffered serious delays or losses. It is also a report which seeks to give a pat on the back to the carrier companies hence the feel good factoring of “the report highlights that many carriers and their employees went out of their way to make sure parcels were delivered”.
    How about highlighting the fact that in my area with relatively light snow in a city centre, Royal Mail refused to make doorstep deliveries for 7 days.

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