How retailers meet customer flexible delivery options needs

No primary category set

Parcelhub, a multi-carrier delivery management and proactive tracking support provider, has surveyed 100 UK B2B and B2C mid-market retailers to understand how they are responding to the demands customers place on them for flexible delivery options.

Flexible delivery options are ever changing for the better, with safe places, timed deliveries and notifications both the day before and on the day of delivery, but the challenge for many online retailers is how to provide this to customers. Marketplaces have their own solutions and many, for instance, make offering a nominated day delivery almost impossible. Even on your own website there may be a certain amount of integration needed to offer the service you might wish to offer.

What are your bug bears with being able to offer flexible delivery options – is it integration, service offered vs cost from your carriers, or something else?

Parcelhub flexible delivery options survey results

Delivery timescale

68% offer 48-hour delivery and 61% offer next day delivery

Purchase return option

Only 55% offer returns as standard

Customer flexibility

51% offer leave parcel in a safe place; 31% offer Collect+, only 25% offer tailored delivery windows

Delivery management

40% use a third-party delivery company with 60% working directly with carriers

Carrier choice

37% Royal Mail; 35% Hermes; 22% Parcelforce, 20% DHL, 20% DPD

Carrier satisfaction

88% are satisfied with carrier collections and 83% with delivery service

Customer acquisition

56% offer free returns; 46% offer free delivery; 31% loyalty points; 22% free international shipping; 12% friend referrals; 13% none

Delivery developments

41% will adopt a green focus; 35% will offer additional delivery options; 29% a returns solution; 27% proactive tracking technology; 24% introduce new delivery regions; 13% outsourced fulfilment

Customer service

69% struggle to manage their customer service queries to the required level

Ticketing software

51% use ticketing software, of which 72% measure the impact of failed deliveries to control costs and improve customer service and retention

Customer service investment

39% plan to expand internal customer service operations; 32% invest in AI; 29% in customer experience management; 24% outsourcing customer service operations; 18% none

International operations

47% deliver to both the UK and internationally

Challenges to international delivery

33% uncompetitive delivery costs; 19% introducing new marketplaces as channels; 14% overheads; 12% language barriers


55% use Amazon; 48% eBay; 17% own website

Item tracking

90% believe they have good parcel tracking visibility with 72% considering outsourcing delivery tracking to a third party, with those who already use a carrier management company, 84% are willing to outsource tracking to a third party

Order management

29% use a multi-channel order management system, of which 95% consider the process efficient

“Our research shows that the delivery landscape is increasing in complexity as consumers are becoming more sophisticated in their demands for flexible delivery services. Larger retailers have the size and scale to be able to adapt to these needs but smaller retailers do not have the critical mass to be able to directly manage these complex carrier relationships.

At Parcelhub we are well placed to work with mid-market retailers who are looking to diversify their delivery capabilities yet want to do so within one carrier management system and outsource customer service. Our research shows this is exactly what mid-market retailers are looking for with 69% struggling to manage their customer service queries and 84% are willing to outsource the delivery tracking component of their customer service to a third party; this means our unique offering is really relevant and has broad appeal.”
– Simon Wright, Marketing Manager, Parcelhub


How Charles Bentley ship 21k items per month with Parcelhub

How Charles Bentley ship 21k items/month with Parcelhub


Parcelhub Leeds – New shipping option


Parcelhub electric vans £450,000 investment


Whistl to offer Yodel 2-hour delivery window service


Essex and SE London now covered by Parcelhub expansion

ChannelX Guide...

Featured in this article from the ChannelX Guide – companies that can help you grow and manage your business.

Register for Newsletter

Receive 5 newsletters per week

Gain access to all research

Be notified of upcoming events and webinars