Blog

Want to know the latest GFS news and blogs?

Get insight into eCommerce and consumer trends plus opinion and advice for optimising order fulfilment, despatch and delivery.

See what we’ve been up to and read about us in the press, plus also get information about fuel surcharges, carrier schedules and more.

In-House Fulfilment vs Working with a Fulfilment Partner

In-House Fulfilment vs Working with a Fulfilment Partner

Starting your own eCommerce business is fun and exciting, but as the owner of a small business, you may find yourself doing it all – from product development, customer liaison, all the way to fulfilling and shipping your orders.

When you’re doing it all, how can you achieve your ambition to grow and diversify your business to reach new markets and customers?

Fulfilment centres take the pressure off small businesses by picking, packing, and sending parcels out. And when the fulfilment partner is the right fit, you can trust that all of it is handled while you focus on more strategic aspects of your business.

So how does working with a fulfilment partner really differ from managing fulfilment in-house?

Fulfilling Orders

In-House

Finding orders, packaging them up and getting them sent is a timely process for a small business. Often it’s left to the business owner to take multiple trips to the post office to get all the orders out. Whilst you want your business to grow, more orders mean more pressure on you as you try to fulfil them as quickly as possible. Delays can mean unhappy customers and can affect your opportunities to gain loyal customers or benefit from word of mouth.

Fulfilment Centre

Working with a fulfilment partner means that all your stock is safely stored, and when orders come in, you can trust that they will be quickly and efficiently sent out — meaning happy customers and repeat business!

scanning products for product fulfilment

Returns

In-House

Unfortunately, an unavoidable part of eCommerce is returns. Even with the best of intentions, there will be some customers who will change their mind or feel the product isn’t quite right once they see it. Managing returns can be a headache, as you deal with customer questions, wait for the return, assess the condition of the item to see whether it can be resold, to then get it restocked and back on your website for resale if possible.

Fulfilment Centre

With a fulfilment centre, you can completely stay away from the hassle of returns management! They can sort the return, assess whether it can be resold and get it back onto shelves faster and with much less hassle!

Customer Experience

In-House

When you are managing parcel volumes yourself, the simplest “headache free” route is to have one type of delivery option. Working with multiple carriers requires more time as you manage different contracts, multiple integrations and the different delivery options available to you, and not to forget, multiple drop-offs or pick-ups. But having different delivery options is essential as customers have been known to abandon their baskets when there’s a lack of delivery options from the retailer.

Fulfilment Centre

A fulfilment centre often already has contracts with multiple carriers and can easily ship using different delivery options. With an easier integration on your website, you should be able to give your customers different delivery options, increasing sales and making customers happy.

Managing and Storing Stock

In-House

On top of everything else you have to do, keeping an eye on your stock levels and ensuring you are regularly ordering the right amount of product or materials is just another thing to keep track of!

Fulfilment Centre

Working with a fulfilment centre means everything is safely stored at the warehouse, and you get access to a stock management system to keep an eye on what’s going in and out, and what you may need to re-order!

warehouse worker collecting parcels for fulfilment

Want to see how it all works?

GFS Fulfilment’s state-of-the-art technology and tailor-made pick and pack services means you can find a solution that is bespoke to you and your business, no matter how detailed or complex. With over 50 years of experience, your stock is in safe hands with GFS.

Want to see how it all works? Join us for the GFS Fulfilment Open Day to witness what a stress-free fulfilment partnership can do for your business.

Along with a complete tour of our fulfilment facility, meet some of GFS’ customers who run businesses of a scale similar to yours and get an understanding of how partnering with GFS Fulfilment gave them the confidence to grow their business, reach newer markets and create happy customers.

Open Day at GFS Fulfilment
Thursday, 9 February
11am to 2pm incl. lunch
Canal View Rd, Newbury RG14 5XF

Talk to us

2023-01-19T13:52:31+00:00January 16th, 2023|

Key Takeaways from Peak Bulletin 2022: Handy Tips for eCommerce Businesses to Plan the Year Ahead

Key Takeaways from Peak Bulletin 2022: Handy Notes for eCommerce Businesses to Plan the Year Ahead

Over the peak Black Friday and festive shopping season in 2022, GFS kept a hawk’s eye on the industry to gather carrier and industry coverage for our weekly Peak Bulletin, with our insights as well as commentary from authoritative industry voices.

Here’s a quick look at the key takeaways from how the eCommerce industry performed on the whole — parcel volumes, challenges and wins for carriers, retail shopping behaviour and what the experts were watching out for.

Retail Round-Up

Initial feedback from many eCommerce retailers was that they were expecting Peak to run very late with the anticipation that a large number of shoppers will hold out until the final week before Christmas.

Initial growth with parcel volumes was seen across the fashion sector with a majority of leading retailers promoting Black Friday sales discounts, and several offering over 25% discounts.

Over the following days it became clear that shoppers clearly defied the cost-of-living crisis to leverage Black Friday deals. It is possible shoppers cut back on luxury purchases to focus on more essential purchases available on promotion.

UK shoppers were potentially overwhelmed with intense Black Friday messaging, but interest is still up as consumers are trying to find the best deals they can to save in the run-up to Christmas. Online searches for Black Friday sales rose by a quarter since last year as customers looked to save money (Audit Lab) and leverage deals.

As we inched closer to the festive shopping season, strong growth still continued across the week in the fashion sector; and while gifting had seen a slower-than-expected start to peak, volumes kicked in over the last one week up to the forecast trading levels.

Overall, it seems that buyer shopping was not concentrated just over the weekend, which is usually the predominant time, and instead, shoppers were placing orders across each day of the week.

Parcel Volumes: Pumped Up or Toned Down?

  • The early commencement of Black Friday sales helped drive volumes, with Week 1 (Week 46) raking in the highest volumes of 2022 up to that point in the year.
  • Week 2 of Peak (Week 47) saw parcel volume increase by over 20% versus week 46, which was exactly in line with the week-on-week growth seen in 2021. While there were fluctuations in the forecast volume by day, volumes across the week are in line with the latest forecasts.
  • Come Week 3 (Week 48), headline volumes were in line with forecasts but significant variations were seen across retailers and carriers with volume swings due to the Royal Mail strike on Black Friday resulting in a surge of volume entering carrier networks on Cyber Monday.
  • Some carriers have suggested their volume on Cyber Monday was far greater than forecast, with many retailers switching volume from Royal Mail.
  • Volume across this weekend was 30% lower than the Black Friday weekend; this was to be expected as fewer retailers were working over the weekend with a reduction in weekend collection requests.
  • Black Friday sales volume was flatter than expected with lower sales across the weekend running into Cyber Monday. As we’ve mentioned before, this could be a direct result of Black Friday sales starting much earlier in 2022 with volume spread over a longer period.
  • Weeks 4 and 5 (Weeks 49 and 50) remained consistent with the week-on-week trading patterns seen in previous years. With sales volumes transitioning from Black Friday/Cyber Monday offers into gifting volume, with hampers coming into the delivery mix and helping to boost overall volumes.

Carrier Watch

  • Right from Week 1, carriers were bracing for significant operational challenges with planned Royal Mail strike action on Thursday and Black Friday. Carriers had to direct focus towards protecting network service performance through the Black Friday weekend.
  • As we moved into Week 2, collection service remained strong, with parcels being processed in good time and no reported issues from Hub networks. Some carriers did face some service challenges in postcode pockets across the Depot networks, but that was quite insignificant to the total parcel volume being processed.
  • The increase in parcel volume in Week 3 meant some carriers advised there may be a one-day delay in delivering to some postcode locations.
  • A big challenge carriers faced was courier recruitment in the areas impacted by strike action, which meant some carriers had to resort to increased incentive payments for people joining, with loyalty bonuses for working through until Christmas.
  • In Week 4, carriers reported a strong weekend delivery performance. But then came the impact from the snow, while carriers were still grappling with the diverted volumes from Royal Mails. But carriers continued being resilient and working round the clock to minimise delays, and we saw this clearly with strong performance coming through from the Hubs.
  • Overall, very strong deliveries over the last weekend helped further reduce volumes across the carrier networks. The final delivery week before Christmas saw lots of depots go into special measures, with fringe impacts from motorway accidents, etc.

Peak Panorama from the experts

IMRG tracked 305 retailers every day over Black Friday to monitor their campaigns.

The total market defied the gravity of extenuating circumstances, such as the cost-of-living crisis and the World Cup clash, scoring a positive territory revenue result of +0.3% YoY (Year-on-Year), albeit still very low.

While clothing generally performed better than other online retail categories throughout 2022, in the last little while we have seen its growth drop away. In Black Friday week the category performed worse than expected (0%), at -1.1% YoY.

In comparison, health & beauty had a fantastic time considering it was one of the earliest categories for live Black Friday campaigns this year. In keeping up the weekly momentum, the result was +3.8% YoY.

Simultaneously, electricals had their fair share of joy as they experienced a growth of +2.8% YoY. Perhaps they have the football extravaganzas to thank!

While it is not as steep as we predicted, home & garden did see a decline of -0.7% YoY. This negative territory figure is compared to 2021, a pandemic year that saw more customers stuck indoors, and thus they might already have relatively new furniture.

Network & Connect 

These eCommerce Events & Webinars might interest you… 

2023-01-10T13:32:12+00:00January 5th, 2023|

Shipping Software That Can Make Your Life Easier as an eCommerce Business

Shipping Software That Can Make Your Life Easier as an eCommerce Business

As an eCommerce business owner, it’s important to have the right tools in place to manage and streamline your shipping processes. Shipping management software can help you automate and organise your shipping operations, reducing the time and effort required to get your parcels to customers. In this blog post, we look at some of the different types of shipping software that an eCommerce business might need.

Integrated Carrier Tracking Software

With shipping tracking software, eCommerce businesses can stay up to date on the location and estimated delivery dates of their parcels, ensuring provision of timely and accurate information to their customers. This helps improve customer satisfaction and reduces the number of inquiries and complaints that eCommerce businesses receive about the order status.

Shipping tracking software can help businesses identify and resolve any issues that may arise during the shipping process, such as lost or damaged packages, which can further improve the overall customer experience with further clarity and clear communication. Additionally, shipping tracking software can provide eCommerce businesses with valuable insights and data about their shipping processes, helping optimise and streamline their logistics operations and reduce costs.

Shipping Labeling

Shipping labeling software helps streamline and automate the process of creating and printing shipping labels. Businesses can easily generate labels that include all the necessary information, especially when it comes to cross border shipping where incorrect information can lead to delays at customs.

With a multi-carrier shipping platform, different carriers to suit various delivery needs can be integrated, also ensuring you have the right labeling needed for each carrier. This can help eCommerce businesses save time and reduce the workload for operations teams.

Multi-channel integration Software

Software that integrates different eCommerce channels can be a valuable asset for businesses, as it helps centralise their product and inventory data, customer information and order management processes, eliminating the need to switch between different systems or manually enter data in multiple places.

This can save businesses a significant amount of time and effort, increasing productivity and significantly reducing the risk of errors or missed parcels. Feeding through all your shipments into the same system increases efficiency and customer experience.

Returns Management Software

Returns management software can help eCommerce businesses manage return policies, generate return shipping labels, and track the status of returned items as they are processed and returned to inventory. By keeping track of returned items, businesses can better manage returns and get re-sellable stock back on the shelves, faster, as well as quickly deal with any damaged items.

Better visibility also helps analyse data about returned products, such as the reasons for the return and the most frequently returned items, which can inform business decisions and strategies. It also benefits customer experience, by making eit asier for customers to return products and providing clear and concise information about the return process.

There are different types of shipping software that an eCommerce business might need. By choosing the right tools for your business, you can improve the efficiency and accuracy of your shipping operations, helping to provide a better experience for your customers.

Managed Multi-Carrier Services

With GFS’ managed multi-carrier services, you get access to a full suite of eCommerce shipping software, including:

  • Easy integrations on checkout to offer 1000+ delivery services
  • Full tracking and labeling software
  • Multi-channel integration
  • A returns management platform

You can enhance every stage of the delivery journey across carriers, countries and sales channels – all through one single integration. Talk to us about how you can streamline your delivery operations with GFS multi-carrier services.

Talk to us

2022-12-23T10:06:26+00:00December 23rd, 2022|

Cost-of-living crisis and eCommerce Delivery: What’s Changed?

Cost-of-living crisis and eCommerce Delivery: What’s Changed?

Consumers and businesses have had a great deal to contend with over the past couple of years. The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed up the demand for online shopping. Inflation has reached its fastest pace in 40 years (1). To add to the challenges, the cost-of-living crisis is changing the way consumers buy and receive goods, meaning cost is an even stronger factor in consumer purchasing decisions than before. How is this impacting eCommerce delivery? Let’s find out.

The rise of click-and-collect

The pressure is on for businesses to keep the orders flowing despite the cost-of-living crisis. eCommerce shipping isn’t without its challenges, especially with supply chain issues and strikes putting pressure on logistics. Click and collect has become a more appealing option for customers, as it means they can pick up their order when it’s convenient for them so there is less chance of missing a delivery, and is also a cheaper option than home delivery. Click and Collect now accounts for 40% of sales for retailers who offer the service (2), an increase from 37% a year ago. It’s a great option, especially if it can be offered at no extra cost for smaller purchases. John Lewis for example suspended its minimum spend for click-and-collect for a period earlier in the year.

Hybrid shopping

Hybrid shopping, where purchases made online are then collected in-store, seems to work well for both consumers and businesses. It enables the consumer to collect their orders sooner than it might take for a delivery to get to their house, taking the pressure off the business’ eCommerce delivery expectations. Hybrid shopping – namely BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store) – saved many businesses during the pandemic by removing the added logistics of delivering to home addresses.

The introduction of D2C

Direct-to-consumer shopping is quickly growing into a necessity for many businesses. It enables the manufacturer to sell directly to consumers via their website or eCommerce platform, cutting out the middle step by keeping things direct between the brand and the consumer. This enables a stronger relationship between both and can help build loyalty to turn customers into brand advocates.

The cost and speed of shipping

The rise in cost-of-living is having a knock-on effect. As manufacturing cost rises, so does the cost of goods and shipping fees. As many businesses have been experiencing supply chain issues, it is becoming increasingly important to reassure consumers and gain their trust. Reducing supply chain issues is a challenge worth tackling as many consumers see speedy delivery as a reason to purchase from one business over another. Speed of delivery is now the decisive factor behind over one-quarter of abandoned carts, second only to pricing among customers who intended to make a purchase (4).

This means retailers must avoid relying on a single carrier for shipping to run smoothly, but this is as much of a problem as it is a solution. Why? Because the more carriers businesses engage integrations and contracts with, the complexity only increases and the more chance there is of something going wrong. But there are ways to go multi-carrier without the hassle and complications.

eCommerce returns

It’s interesting to know that 60% of UK consumers (5) would consider shopping somewhere else to avoid online return fees. Reverse logistics can have a severe impact on operational costs, and keeping costs down is a must in the present economic climate. For some retailers such as ASOS, returns have been increasing as consumers put a halt on their spending.

A good option may be to offer free in-store returns. The benefit of this is giving your customers a free way to return if they want to, reducing the pressure on your logistics & operations teams and also providing opportunities for consumers to see other items to buy or exchange.

Robust Delivery Whatever Happens

Working with a multi-carrier partner like GFS means you can access 1000+ different delivery services, including Click and Collect services, as well as proactive parcel management and smart multi-carrier technology, expert advice and support from an experienced customer care team.

Talk to us

2022-12-22T14:20:48+00:00December 22nd, 2022|

eCommerce trends you need to know for 2023

eCommerce trends you need to know for 2023

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and social commerce has had a significant impact on the parcel delivery industry. AI technology has the potential to streamline the eCommerce delivery process, making it more efficient and cost-effective for companies and customers alike.

Meanwhile, social commerce has changed the way that people shop and receive packages, with an increasing number of people turning to social media platforms to make purchases and have them delivered directly to their door. In this blog, we will explore the ways that AI and social commerce are impacting the parcel delivery industry and what 2023 might hold.

AI Delivery

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in parcel deliveries is becoming increasingly common, and it has the potential to significantly impact the way packages are transported in 2023.

One of the main ways that AI is impacting parcel deliveries is by enabling real-time tracking of packages without the need for human intervention, and with 90% of consumers actively monitoring their parcels this is something that many retailers can take advantage of [1]. With AI-powered tracking systems, customers can see exactly where their package is at any given moment, which can help them plan their day and ensure they are available to receive their delivery.

With over 90% of online shoppers expecting all shipping issues to be resolved while in transit, this real-time tracking can also help shipping companies by providing them with valuable data to optimise all routes from start to last mile delivery, and reduce the time it takes to deliver packages [2].

Another way that AI is impacting parcel deliveries is by helping companies to forecast demand and plan their operations. Using AI algorithms, companies can analyse data on past delivery patterns and customer behavior to predict future demand and ensure they have enough capacity to handle it. This can help prevent delays and disruptions in the delivery process, resulting in a better customer experience.

In addition to improving the efficiency of the delivery process, AI can also help improve the overall customer experience. For example, some companies are using AI-powered chatbots to provide customers with instant answers to their questions and concerns, without the use of a live agent. This can help to reduce the workload for customer service teams, allowing them to focus on more complex issues, providing better and timely support to customers.

Overall, the use of AI in parcel deliveries is having a positive impact on the industry. By enabling real-time tracking, improving forecasting and planning, and enhancing customer experience, AI is helping make the process of delivering packages faster, more efficient, and very convenient for both companies and customers.

Social commerce delivery

Social commerce is the use of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, to buy and sell products. This trend has been on the rise in recent years, with around 82% of survey respondents stating that they have used social media to make a purchase [3], which is having a major impact on the shipping industry.

One of the key ways that social commerce is impacting the shipping industry is by driving an increase in the demand for eCommerce delivery services. As more and more people use social media to discover and purchase products, shipping companies are seeing a corresponding rise in the volume of packages that need to be delivered. This has put pressure on companies to find ways to deliver packages quickly and efficiently, often through the use of innovative technologies such as drones and autonomous vehicles.

Another way that social commerce is impacting the shipping industry is by changing the way that companies interact with their customers. With the rise of social media shopping, 70% of online retailers are working to improve their communication and tracking information to provide a better customer experience, as many customers now expect to be able to easily connect with companies and track the progress of their orders in real time [2]. This has led to an increased focus on customer service within the shipping industry, as companies strive to provide a seamless and convenient experience for their customers.

Overall, the rise of social commerce is having a major impact on the shipping industry. As this trend continues to grow, it is likely that we will see even more changes and developments within the industry in 2023 as companies adapt to the changing landscape.

GFS shipping solutions

GFS is your one-stop shop for multi-carrier eCommerce delivery and returns. Since 2001, we have been keeping up and staying ahead of eCommerce delivery market trends and requirements, nsuring that every one of our customers can:

  •   Provide an exceptional customer delivery experience
  •   Reduce cart abandonment rates
  •   Automate shipping and dispatch
  •   Protect peak
  •   Optimise carrier spend and performance
  •   Open up international markets

Talk to us

2022-12-22T14:19:27+00:00December 22nd, 2022|

GFS Customer Services Peak Opening Hours

DayDateDesciptionCustomer Care Hours
Friday
23.12.220830-1800
Saturday24.12.22Christmas Eve0900-1600
Sunday
25.12.22Christmas DayClosed
Monday26.12.22Boxing DayClosed
Tuesday27.12.22Bank Holiday (Boxing Day)0900-1500 - Inbound queries only
Wednesday28.12.220830-1800
Thursday29.12.220830-1800
Friday30.12.220830-1800
Saturday31.12.22New Years Eve0900-1600
Sunday01.01.23New Years DayClosed
Monday02.01.23Bank Holiday (New Years Day)Closed
Tuesday03.01.23Normal hours
2023-01-25T16:37:07+00:00December 21st, 2022|

Peak Bulletin: Issue 5

Peak Bulletin 2022

Gauging the Pulse of eCommerce Delivery

Issue #5

The Peak Bulletin puts together unique insights on carrier updates, industry happenings and parcel volumes based on GFS proprietary data.

This year, we’ve taken it up a notch to share a wider perspective on what’s happening with guest commentary from industry experts.

INSIDER INSIGHT

GFS data perspective on parcel volumes and delivery performance across the industry

VOLUMES: PUMPED UP OR TONED DOWN?

Data on parcel volumes — are numbers up to or above expectations and industry forecasts, or have they caved under the excruciating uncertainties of 2022?

Week 50 volume remained consistent with the parcel count in weeks 48 and 49, and reflected a similar trading pattern to previous years.

Royal Mail strikes on Wednesday, 14th December and Thursday, 15th December again resulted in increased parcel volume from SME’s and impact on carrier service performance. Carriers are actively restricting any new parcel volume to protect existing network capacity.

Several carriers have now brought forward the date of their last collection dates to support a Christmas delivery – the cut-offs that are now being advised by some carriers are aligned to Royal Mail’s own cut-off times.

Snow and Ice was also reported as having a major impact on delivery performance in some regions last week.

RETAIL ROUND-UP

The “mood” of digital shoppers this week and how it’s driving performance metrics across product categories.

Strong growth continues across the week in the fashion sector; and while gifting had seen a slower-than-expected start to peak, volumes have kicked in over the last one week up to the forecast trading levels.

It is expected that there will also be strong promotional activity with a final push on Christmas sales at the start of the week and retailers then quickly switching offers to start end-of-season sales early.

CARRIER WATCH

The pressure is ON for parcel deliveries — how are carriers faring in the race to the customer’s doorstep?

Overall, very strong deliveries over the last weekend have helped to further reduce volumes across the carrier networks.

There has been increase in Next Day shipping to the service delivery mix, which is consistent with previous years in that both consumers and retailers favour a next day delivery service to protect against the risk of any network delay.

The final delivery week before Christmas is once again expected to be challenging as carriers have to mitigate the risk of increased volumes due to Royal Mail.

PEAK PANORAMA

Q&A With Our Guest Expert – We spoke with Senior Supply Chain Leader Jim Higginson, (former Senior Director of Logistics and Customer Fulfilment, Huda Beauty) addresses the rising cost of returns the industry currently faces

Returns processes need to be operationally viable without disrupting current customer expectations. Make sure your returns processes are clearly articulated on your website. Work with your Customer Service teams to make the returns process as slick as possible. For instance, ensuring that prepaid returns labels or collections are centrally arranged and managed by the CS team, and the return logged so there is some form of approval process.. Also make sure you try to use the parcel carriers you are also using for your outbound to keep the volume and therefore costs down.

I would also work on the returns processing within the warehouse so that you can ensure that any credit that is given can be checked on the return arriving back and fed back to the Customer service team if there are issues. A good starting point to minimise non-faulty returns is making sure that product pictures and descriptions are accurate on the website.

Whether you as a brand absorb the cost of non-faulty returns or pass it on back to the consumers will depend upon your industry. My personal view is that free returns for consumers can be a very valuable selling tool as long as you have some control on the return coming back. A sensible level of returns can then be built into your cost of sales. Returns can be fiddly and therefore labour intensive to solve so finding the right experienced shipping partner for both outbound and returns is crucial.

Jim Higginson, Senior Supply Chain Leader

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

According to IMRG, November came in above expectation with sales volumes, with flat growth but still ahead of growth rates for 2022, where every month has been negative. It is slightly surprising that demand increased when it has been so low for the whole year.

Volume may have been pulled forward, with people doing their Christmas shopping earlier this year to take advantage of discounts to a greater extent than normal.

The first-ever football World Cup in the winter was expected to cannibalise Black Friday and Christmas sales, but digital shoppers kept on with their shopping — whether it was from an early out for England and Wales, or just in a bid to bag the best deals remains a question mark.

Carriers have managed to reduce delays amidst weather challenges and Royal Mail strike impact, but the uphill task continues with more volume from upcoming Royal Mail strikes on 23rd and 24th December.

What also packs up on the pile of retailers’ and carriers’ rising challenges is managing reverse logistics in the weeks ahead.

Watch this space for more information on lessons learned over Peak.

Looking to transform your Returns Management?

GFS Global Returns Pro is a fast, affordable way to:

  • Offer customers 200+ global returns options in 195 countries
  • Localise returns in 35+ languages
  • Present instant exchange options
  • Get a single view of all inbound stock and returns data
  • Get returns back in stock faster

2023-02-01T14:58:26+00:00December 19th, 2022|

Peak Bulletin: Issue 4

Peak Bulletin 2022

Gauging the Pulse of eCommerce Delivery

Issue #4

The Peak Bulletin puts together unique insights on carrier updates, industry happenings and parcel volumes based on GFS proprietary data.

This year, we’ve taken it up a notch to share a wider perspective on what’s happening with guest commentary from industry experts.

INSIDER INSIGHT

GFS data perspective on parcel volumes and delivery performance across the industry

A quick look at Week 49 as shoppers transition from offer-induced buying, towards festive-frenzy shopping.

VOLUMES: PUMPED UP OR TONED DOWN?

Data on parcel volumes — are numbers up to or above expectations and industry forecasts, or have they caved under the excruciating uncertainties of 2022?

Volume in Week 49 was in line with our expected forecast, and flat versus Week 48. This week-on-week trend is similar to what we have seen in previous years.

Whilst there is still a spike in volumes on a Monday, the volume across the remainder of the week does not fall off as dramatically — so overall we are seeing flatter delivery volumes across the week.

We are now seeing sales volumes transitioning from Black Friday/Cyber Monday offers into gifting volume, with hampers coming into the delivery mix and helping to boost overall volumes.

RETAIL ROUND-UP

The “mood” of digital shoppers this week and how it’s driving performance metrics across product categories.

Based on our data analysis, it seems that buyer shopping habits have evolved this year, with less purchase concentration over the weekend than in previous years and a more even mix prevalent during the week.

CARRIER WATCH

The pressure is ON for parcel deliveries — how are carriers faring in the race to the customer’s doorstep?

Carriers have reported a strong weekend delivery performance. However, some areas have seen impact from snow, and the risk on performance is expected to increase across the week as further snowfall is expected at the start of the week.

Retailers are switching volume from Royal Mail to mitigate the risk of strike action on deliveries. With the spikes in volume and strike action, carriers are still managing a delay in deliveries in some locations. The good news is, Hub performance in processing parcels continues to be strong.

Feedback from Carriers is that courier recruitment in the impacted postcode areas still remains a challenge. Some carriers have now increased incentive payments for people joining with loyalty bonuses for working through until Christmas.

PEAK PANORAMA

Q&A With Our Guest Expert – We spoke with Senior Supply Chain Leader Jim Higginson, (former Senior Director of Logistics and Customer Fulfilment, Huda Beauty) to get some hindsight on Black Friday

What’s your take on the stronger-than-expected trading volumes we’re seeing this Peak (besides the need to bag offers to save wallet pinch from the cost of living crisis)?

First of all, brands have heavily invested more in social media platforms to promote themselves and their products on an ever-increasing number of platforms. The brands now have very sophisticated, integrated marketing plans to engage consumers. They did a great job in driving and converting demand. Secondly, the number of consumers who buy online regularly goes up every year and they were attracted to the deals on offer. And with the options available for delivery increasing, online purchasing becomes an easier option. And also, brands are smarter now about knowing the mechanics that drive their consumers to buy with heightened consumer insight.

With recent strike action impacting retailers during this key business period, how should eCommerce businesses reliant on a single parcel service strategise to mitigate risk?

I think it’s always a risk when you enter Q4 peak trading with only one delivery partner on offer. My preference has always been to have at least a couple of options on the table and work with them closely to ensure that the forecasted parcel volume is as accurate as possible. It’s not easy for some companies from an IT integration issue (labels and tracking), but I would encourage businesses to have a plan B up their sleeve in these uncertain times.

Of course, having used GFS myself, I know they can give you multiple vendors with one IT integration and all pricing available. All it takes to change service in the event of strikes or service disruption is to change a code in the integration and you are off. It takes away having to urgently negotiate and integrate with carriers in the event of a problem during Peak trading.

How can the industry address the rising cost of delivery?

The main one is pretty obvious. Make sure your warehouse is as near to your consumers as it can be! UK for UK consumers and EU for EU consumers.

There are two other ways I would suggest in trying to reduce delivery costs in a world where everything is increasing in price. Firstly, know the weight/volumetric breaks in your shipping tariff. Make sure that the box/envelope sizes you are using fit the parcel tariff breaks you are using. If you are not then you are paying to ship air!

Look at alternatives to boxes for the smaller shipments. Using padded environment-friendly envelopes may allow you to reduce costs on shipping. Work internally with your commercial colleagues to increase the UPT so that you in effect fill the packaging you are using.

Jim Higginson, Senior Supply Chain Leader

SIT TIGHT AND WATCH

We ask the questions we’d like answered this week

Further challenges are expected this week for carriers with higher diverted volumes hitting carrier networks this week from Royal Mail strikes on 9th and 11th December. This is expected to heighten further in the middle of the week with further planned strikes from Royal Mail on 14th and 15th December.

Worried about Christmas deliveries and urgently in need of a Plan B?

During peak selling more than any other time, you need to be sure your delivery won’t let you down whatever happens. GFS can ensure you have contingency when you need it most.

  • Super-quick and easy integration for urgent delivery service set-up
  • Direct alternatives for deferred, tracked, and next-day deliveries
  • Value-added services including enhanced customer support
  • … All set up under one integration with GFS

2023-01-30T11:51:18+00:00December 13th, 2022|

Royal Mail Strike Updates

Royal Mail Strike Updates

Bringing you the latest updates on the industrial action/strike

Update:

The CWU has formally notified Royal Mail they plan they will carry out strike action on the following dates in December 2022:

Friday, 9th December

Sunday, 11th December

Wednesday, 14th December

Thursday, 15th December 2022

CWU members who collect, sort, and deliver parcels and letters have been called on to take national strike action.

The CWU has now formally notified Royal Mail and will go ahead with national strike action for the following dates in 2022:

Thursday, 24th November

Friday, 25th November

Wednesday, 30th November

Thursday, 1st December

CWU members who collect, sort, and deliver parcels and letters have been called on to take national strike action.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has withdrawn the planned national strike action on 12 and 14 November 2022.

The CWU is expected to notify Royal Mail of additional industrial action towards the end of November for the following dates:

Thursday, 24th November

Friday, 25th November

Wednesday, 30th November

Thursday, 1st December

Items posted the day before, during or in the days after any strike action will be subject to delay.

Contingency in the face of delivery disruption

2023-01-25T17:22:03+00:00December 7th, 2022|

Peak Bulletin: Issue 3

Peak Bulletin 2022

Gauging the Pulse of eCommerce Delivery

Issue #3

The Peak Bulletin puts together unique insights on carrier updates, industry happenings and parcel volumes based on GFS proprietary data.

This year, we’ve taken it up a notch to share a wider perspective on what’s happening across the industry with guest commentary and proprietary data from IMRG, UK’s leading authority and largest eCommerce membership community.

Read on to see if Week 48 withstood the fire of forecasts and if it matched up with its ‘predecessor’ 2021.

INSIDER INSIGHT

GFS data perspective on parcel volumes and delivery performance across the industry

In more recent years, Week 48 and Week 49 have seen the highest volume for the year. Is it the same for retailers this year or have they just scraped through?

VOLUMES: PUMPED UP OR TONED DOWN?

Data on parcel volumes — are numbers up to or above expectations and industry forecasts, or have they caved under the excruciating uncertainties of 2022?

Our headline volume has been in line with expected forecasts, however, we have seen significant variations across retailers and carriers with volume swings due to the Royal Mail strike on Black Friday resulting in a surge of volume entering carrier networks on Cyber Monday.

Some carriers have suggested their volume on Cyber Monday was far greater than forecast. Initial analysis shows that the increase has not come from their largest retailers but in SME volumes, which is linked directly to retailers switching volume from Royal Mail.

Week 48 volume increased by over 8% versus week 47, which is lower than in the previous years — the week-on-week increase in 2021 was almost double this level.

Volume across this weekend was 30% lower than the Black Friday weekend; this was to be expected as fewer retailers were working over the weekend with a reduction in weekend collection requests.

This variation reiterates that Black Friday sales volume was flatter than expected with lower sales across the weekend running into Cyber Monday. As we’ve mentioned before, this could be a direct result of Black Friday sales starting much earlier in 2022 with volume spread over a longer period.

RETAIL ROUND-UP

The “mood” of digital shoppers this week and how it’s driving performance metrics across product categories.

UK shoppers are potentially saturated and overwhelmed with intense Black Friday messaging, but interest is still up as consumers are trying to find the best deals they can to save in the run-up to Christmas. Online searches for Black Friday sales rose by a quarter since last year as customers look to save money (Audit Lab).

CARRIER WATCH

The pressure is ON for parcel deliveries — how are carriers faring in the race to the customer’s doorstep?

The increase in parcel volume means some carriers are now advising that there may be a one-day delay in delivering to some postcode locations, and courier recruitment in the impacted areas remains a challenge.

Some carriers have now increased incentive payments for people joining with loyalty bonuses for working through until Christmas.

Volume is being managed to ensure that any delay and backlog is minimised.

The delivery mix has seen a small change between Next Day and 2-day services, with the proportion of parcels shipped on a Next Day service increasing by 4%.

Overall, carriers are reporting that they’ve had a strong weekend delivery performance. Whilst there might still be some delays at the start of the week, Hubs and Depots are in a strong position to support another week of high volumes.

PEAK PANORAMA

Industry Commentary in Association with IMRG

Was Black Friday week a little better than we anticipated for online retail?

In September, IMRG carefully curated a total market and categories forecast for the 21st – 28th November 2022.

The total market defied the gravity of extenuating circumstances, such as the cost-of-living crisis and the World Cup clash, scoring a positive territory revenue result of +0.3% YoY (Year-on-Year), albeit still very low.

While clothing generally performed better than other online retail categories throughout 2022, in the last little while we have seen its growth drop away. In Black Friday week the category performed worse than expected (0%), at -1.1% YoY.

In comparison, health & beauty had a fantastic time considering it was one of the earliest categories for live Black Friday campaigns this year. In keeping up the weekly momentum, the result was +3.8% YoY.

Simultaneously, electricals had their fair share of joy as they experienced a growth of +2.8% YoY. Perhaps they have the football extravaganzas to thank!

While it is not as steep as we predicted, home & garden did see a decline of -0.7% YoY. This negative territory figure is compared to 2021, a pandemic year that saw more customers stuck indoors, and thus they might already have relatively new furniture. Also, high-budget items might not cut people’s Christmas wish lists this year.

Now that the dust has settled on the Black Friday peak, what actually happened is becoming clearer.

We were anticipating a decline of -5% in online revenue for the week. The day of Black Friday was indeed down -5.5%, but growth for the week as a whole was flat (+0.3%). While this may sound like a disappointing result, it is ahead of forecast and, in the context of this year, means that demand in November was ahead of where it has been for most of 2022.

Prior to November, we had only recorded positive growth in two weeks over the summer, which was driven by extreme heatwaves due to spikes in garden and clothing sales. In November, we recorded three weeks of positive growth in a row – two of them lower than a single percentage point, but positive nonetheless – and in 2022 that has been very hard to come by.

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director, IMRG

SIT TIGHT AND WATCH

We ask the questions we’d like answered this week

While things look positive and this is good news for retailers on the surface, it does leave a question mark over December and January trading, as volume might have been pulled forward to take advantage of discounting.

And at GFS, historical data shows Week 49 has traditionally tracked higher than Cyber Monday week. Some carriers however are now anticipating a drop in volumes versus last week as the next Royal Mail strike is on Friday, 9th December. Watch out for our Issue #4 to see how these anticipations are met.

Sign Up Now

Get the weekly GFS Peak Bulletin to have your finger on the pulse of Peak!

2023-01-30T11:51:11+00:00December 5th, 2022|

2022 Christmas Carrier Schedule

GFS Christmas Carrier Schedule
AmazonDHL ParcelDPDDPD LocalDX 1 ManDX 2 ManEvriTuffnells
Sunday
18th December
Normal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal Service - Last shipping Day for 2 Day serviceNormal Service
Monday
19th December
Normal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal Service
Tuesday
20th December
Normal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal Service - Last shipping Day for Next Day serviceNormal Service
Wednesday
21st December
Normal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal Service - Last day for delivery before ChristmasNormal ServiceNormal Service
Thursday
22nd December
Normal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceLast day for Next Day delivery before ChristmasNormal ServiceNormal ServiceLast day for Next Day delivery before Christmas
Friday 23th DecemberNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal Service
Christmas Eve Saturday
24th December
Delivery and pre-booked collections onlyDelivery onlyNormal ServiceNormal ServiceSaturday Service Premium delivery onlyClosedNormal ServiceSaturday Service Premium delivery only
Christmas Day Sunday
25th December
ClosedClosedClosedClosedClosedClosedClosedClosed
Boxing Day Monday
26th December
ClosedClosedPre planned collections onlyPre planned collections onlyClosedClosedPre planned collections onlyClosed
Tuesday 27th DecemberDelivery and pre-booked collections onlyPre planned collections onlyPre planned collections onlyPre planned collections onlyClosedClosedPre planned collections onlyClosed
Wednesday 28th DecemberNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceClosedNormal ServiceNormal Service
Thursday
29th December
Normal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceLast collection day for Next Day Delivery before New YearClosedNormal ServiceLast collection day for Next Day Delivery before New Year
Friday
30th December
Normal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceClosedNormal ServiceNormal Service
New Years Eve Saturday
31st December
Delivery and pre-booked collections onlyDeliveries OnlyDelivery onlyDelivery onlySaturday Service Premium delivery onlyClosedNormal ServiceSaturday Service Premium delivery only
New Years Day Sunday 1st JanuaryClosedClosedPre planned collections onlyPre planned collections onlyClosedClosedPre planned collections onlyClosed
Monday
2nd January
Delivery and pre-booked collections onlyPre planned collections onlyPre planned collections onlyPre planned collections onlyClosedClosedPre planned collections onlyClosed
Tuesday
3rd January
Normal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal Service - No Scottish DeliveriesNormal Service - No Scottish DeliveriesNormal ServiceNormal Service - No Scottish Deliveries
Wednesday
4th January
Normal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal ServiceNormal Service
2022-11-30T10:50:42+00:00November 30th, 2022|

Peak Bulletin: Issue 2

Peak Bulletin 2022

Gauging the Pulse of eCommerce Delivery

Issue #2

The Peak Bulletin puts together unique insights on carrier updates, industry happenings and parcel volumes based on GFS proprietary data.

This year, we’ve taken it up a notch to share a wider perspective on what’s happening across the industry with guest commentary and proprietary data from IMRG, UK’s leading authority and largest eCommerce membership community.

Go on to find out what the crucial Black Friday weekend meant for retailers and carriers over Week 47.

INSIDER INSIGHT

GFS data perspective on parcel volumes and delivery performance across the industry

Calling the trading conditions for this Black Friday “challenging” might be an understatement, but it has dodged the bullet of being a catastrophe.

VOLUMES: PUMPED UP OR TONED DOWN?

Data on parcel volumes — are numbers up to or above expectations and industry forecasts, or have they caved under the excruciating uncertainties of 2022?

Week 47 volume increased by over 20% versus Week 46, and this increase is exactly in line with the week-on-week growth seen in 2021. While volume was higher at the start of the week, the day of Black Friday itself was flatter than previous years; potentially a result of promotions going live much earlier.

Weekend volume was up once again, seeing an increase of 40% versus Saturday and Sunday from the previous week. This could be due to some volume held over for despatching over the weekend, as some retailers closed earlier than usual on Friday for staff to watch the England vs USA FIFA World Cup game.

Overall, while there are fluctuations in the forecast volume by day, volumes across the week are in line with the latest forecasts.

RETAIL ROUND-UP

The “mood” of digital shoppers this week and how it’s driving performance metrics across product categories.

Shoppers have clearly defied the cost-of-living crisis to leverage Black Friday deals. It is possible shoppers have cut back on luxury purchases, to focus on more essential purchases available on promotion.

We’ll share more updates in the week as retailers lock in final numbers from Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

CARRIER WATCH

The pressure is ON for parcel deliveries — how are carriers faring in the race to the customer’s doorstep?

Collection service remains strong, with parcels being processed in good time and no reported issues from Hub networks.

There is an indication that some carriers are facing some service challenges in postcode pockets across the Depot networks, although this is a small proportion of the total parcel volumes being processed so no glaring concerns there.

Also to note, CWU strike action will go ahead as planned on Wednesday, 30th November and Thursday, 1st December 2022, which will put further pressure on retailers shipping with Royal Mail to switch volume to other carriers to maintain commitments to customers.

PEAK PANORAMA

Industry Commentary in Association with IMRG

Before November, there was a question as to whether retailers would launch their Black Friday campaigns earlier and run them for longer this year.

The answer to that has proven a definitive yes, but we have also seen greater levels of participation generally. On the Monday leading into Black Friday week, the number of retailers with a live campaign was higher than from the day of Black Friday in 2021.

Does that mean, therefore, with more deals about, that we have seen a stronger response from customers in taking advantage of them?

Across Black Friday week, we get the sales figures daily from participants in our index (as opposed to the usual weekly updates). While we are still processing the results from Black Friday and over the weekend, the days we do have results for have been very up and down. In previous years, it has been far more consistent; if sales start off well, it tends to be a good indicator for the rest of the week.

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director, IMRG

SIT TIGHT AND WATCH

We ask the questions we’d like answered this week

Volume is expected to increase further in the next two weeks, which have in more recent years been the highest two weeks of the year. But what will this mean for retailers who are scrabbling to build contingency due to Royal Mail strikes?

Whilst we await conclusive Black Friday results, according to IMRG all outcomes remain possible at this point. Did demand get carried over the weekend, or have the early campaigns served to pull volume forward from it?

Sign Up Now

Get the weekly GFS Peak Bulletin to have your finger on the pulse of Peak!

2023-01-30T11:51:04+00:00November 28th, 2022|
Go to Top