Rory O’Connor, CEO & Founder of Scurri, takes a look at the strain that Christmas shopping is placing on the delivery industry and reflects on the unexpected surprises consumers might find when logging on to their favourite shopping sites post Brexit transition on the 1st of January 2021:
With the holiday season fast approaching, there is an evident strain on delivery that is increasing both in the UK and internationally. Retailers are doing everything in their power to ensure all orders are delivered in time for the holidays.
This year more people than ever will order Christmas gifts online. In an ideal world most people would be organised and have each and every gift ordered weeks in advance of Christmas. Most of the time, however, the great mantle of responsibility that is delivering the perfect Christmas depends, not on a man in a red suit, but on a well-oiled delivery machine that can take the weight of the frenzy of last minute Christmas shopping.
Here at Scurri, we are already seeing the epic shift towards online Christmas shopping, as we are currently processing more than double the number of deliveries that we were at this time last year. Currently there is a +50% YOY increase in online Christmas shopping, and this number is expected to be higher this year due to Covid and concerns surrounding in-person shopping. There are concerns however, with the wider ecommerce industry, about potential strains that can be placed on the industry this holiday season. With the industry already struggling to cope, there will be a massive strain on websites, warehouses, and most crucially — delivery networks.
A perfect example of the massive strain websites are seeing this holiday season with increased foot traffic is the outage of Amazon Web Services for several hours on November 25th. This outage impacted not only the companies directly affected, but also could cause ripple effects for other websites and apps, leading to unhappy consumers and delays in the supply chain.
The pandemic is a turbo-charging change as it drives shop closures in the UK to a new record. Many shops disappeared from high streets across the country in the first half of 2020 as the Covid-19 lockdowns hammered the retail sector. At the same time more people than ever now shop online.
Retailers right now are really weighing up their delivery options to meet demands and ensure they have multiple carriers in place to manage their networks effectively. The brands and retailers that will be least impacted by the large increase in online Christmas shopping will be the ones who are working with multiple carriers to ensure efficient and timely deliveries. When it comes to supply chains, we know that there’s a really robust carrier logistics network in place across the UK and we believe they will as a whole cope with the peak season ahead but consumers can expect long delays.
Retailers are also currently using distribution centres to create pop-up ecommerce distribution hubs to meet the surging demands for online orders this year. The move comes as most carriers have been at full shipping capacity for months, and the added seasonal strain will cause serious delays this holiday season.
There are several ways for consumers to make sure they aren’t caught out by these issues. One is ordering early – ideally consumers should have their gifts to loved ones sent by early December to ensure the gifts arrive on time. A second way for consumers to ensure they aren’t caught out by these issues is to not panic buy. Last minute panic buying throws off the natural supply and demand balance that exists in ecommerce, and will lead to increased delays in shipments for not only those consumers panic buying, but all consumers.
For those considering those post-Christmas/early January sales shopping, planning has to be done in advance for what to expect when logging on on the 1st of January 2021. This is mainly due to major rule changes coming in after Brexit, as Britain’s participation in the EU ecommerce Directive ends on the 31st of December 2020. Consumers should take caution to know what and where they can order from, and be aware of the new customs taxes that will be imposed on ordering from within the EU. The problem also exists for the EU ordering from the UK; we know that Irish customers can no longer use the Amazon.co.uk website, rather, they have to order from an EU version of the website such as Amazon.de to receive goods without customs and import restrictions and taxes.
Not only do consumers need to prepare in advance for what online shopping will look like in the early days of Britain leaving the EU ecommerce Directive, but so will retailers. The ability to pivot will be essential for retailers over the coming weeks between the high surge of online orders around the holiday season, and the new ecommerce regulations the UK will be under in 2021.
Retailers in the UK that will be exporting to the EU starting in January 2021 will now have to make customs declarations for the first time. Although the retailer can do this themselves, this is usually handled by the carriers. Licences and certifications will now be needed to export specific products including but not limited to animal, plants, food and agricultural products. Businesses in the EU will now also be required to hold license and certifications to import specific products from the UK, so it’s important to check that any businesses in the EU you may be dealing with have these ready.
The best advice we can give for the holiday season is to place orders early – the earlier the better, because even if you are faced with delays, these orders will arrive in time. Apart from that, be patient. Retailers are working extremely hard with the robust delivery network across the UK to ensure everyone has a happy, healthy holiday season with a limited delay in delivery time.