Last year’s eCommerce boom, after Australia went into lockdown, has continued well into 2021 while restrictions across the states continues.
This year, with Victoria and NSW likely to continue lockdowns into the third quarter of the year, parcel delivery service CouriersPlease (CP) is forecasting a second parcel boom before Christmas. While couriers continue to work around the clock to expedite parcels, CP offers retailers some tips to share with their customers to help minimise delays.
Between March and May 2020, CP experienced an 80 per cent spike in parcel volumes on the previous year. After lockdowns ended and restrictions began to ease, parcel volumes stabilised to a level that was still 53 per cent higher than in 2019.
October to December is peak period for the logistics industry, given the popularity of major shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as Christmas shopping. At CP, parcel volumes grew to more than 4.6 million in 2019, an increase of just 1 per cent (52,000 parcels) on the 2019 September quarter. During last year’s December quarter, however, CP handled more than 8 million parcels. While this was a 4 per cent increase in volumes (340,000 parcels) on the 2020 September quarter, it amounted to a significant 71 per cent growth on the 2019 December quarter.
This year, from 25 June when Sydney went into lockdown, CP is well on its way to surpassing 2020 December quarter volumes while lockdowns continue, delivering more than 5.6 million parcels in just eight weeks. As a result, the company expects a further 30 per cent growth in the December quarter compared with the same period last year. This is about 2.4 million more parcels than the company delivered last December quarter, and 122 per cent (5.7 million parcels) more than the 2019 December quarter.
Phil Reid, Chief Operations Officer at CP, said: “We’ve has continued to experience a surge in parcel volumes and the current lockdowns have seen volumes soar to the levels we see during peak periods.
“Since last year’s boom, we expanded the business rapidly, doubling our franchisee network and hiring hundreds more delivery drivers. However, volumes continue to soar to record levels, and a second parcel boom this November and December is inevitable. We are preparing for a more than 30 per cent increase in volumes during this period and have already started recruiting more warehouse staff and delivery drivers where possible.
“It is important for shoppers to understand that couriers across the country are delivering more parcels than ever before, particularly as lockdowns continue in Australia’s two largest cities. While it is a challenge for the industry to keep up and deliver within timeframes, we do know how frustrating it can be for those waiting to receive essential and urgent items. There are several recommendations retailers can share with their customers to minimise delivery delays. However, preparing for potential delays remains important and shoppers should pay particular attention to notifications from couriers, who are updating delivery timeframes and communicating delays to the best of their ability.”
Phil offered the following tips that retailers can share with customers to minimise delivery delays in the upcoming delivery boom.
1. Offer same-day dispatch or delivery for items ordered before 12pm. Retailers can arrange a policy allowing customers to place orders earlier in the day to take advantage of same-day dispatch. Communicating to customers that orders placed before 12pm can be dispatched, and occasionally delivered, that same day, can be a useful option for those purchasing urgent or essential items. For retailers who don’t wish to create such a policy, encouraging customers to place an order earlier in the day can still give warehouse teams more time to prepare an order before the close of business.
2. Encourage customers to plan purchases ahead of time. Generally, retailers will only dispatch and process orders on a weekday, particularly if they’re a smaller retailer with limited resources and warehouse staff. Rather than placing an order on a Friday afternoon and risk having the parcel sit at a warehouse over the weekend, customers can plan ahead and place orders earlier in the week. This provides ample time for retailers to process and ship an order, increasing the likelihood of customers receiving items sooner.
3. Help couriers deliver the parcel on the first attempt. There are many obstacles delivery drivers face that can prevent parcels from being delivered successfully the first time. To avoid these delays, there are several things customers can do to help couriers. Retailers can encourage customers to double check their address is correct during checkout and communicate the importance of paying attention to tracking notifications to ensure customers are home to accept the delivery. Ensuring ‘authority to leave’ options are available at checkout and prompting customers to designate a safe spot on their property for a courier to leave parcels will also help prevent delays. Retailers can also consider adding a ‘delivery instructions’ section to their checkout pages to allow customers to communicate where parcels can be left. Delivery drivers won’t leave a parcel without a clear location or if the parcel’s safety is at risk. Customers who own a dog can also ensure couriers can access their property safely.
4. Allow customers to leverage alternative locations. While most residents in NSW and Victoria are at home, essential workers and those in other states are still heading into the workplace. Retailers can allow customers who aren’t in lockdown to have parcels delivered to their workplace to reduce risk of missing a parcel and avoid delivery delays. Communicate that choosing such options can speed up deliveries for customers who live in an outer suburban area but whose workplace is in a metro location. Parcels are often delivered faster to metro locations. Retailers can also consider having other delivery alternatives available at check out, such as click and collect, allowing customers to pick up a parcel from a local collection point at a time that is convenient for them. Retailers who choose CP as a delivery partner can also allow customers to redirect parcels to a neighbour’s home, up to three houses from their address, for added convenience.
5. Offer ‘full service’ customer support. Retailers could consider going the extra mile and chase late deliveries or missing parcels on behalf of their customers. Retailers can ensure their customer support is reliable, responsive and able to communicate directly with courier partners to chase late parcels. Retailers that go above and beyond to save customers time and give them peace of mind when shopping online, can also attract a loyal customer base.
6. Communicate delays and encourage customers to practice patience. Unfortunately, the current lockdowns have caused online orders to soar. Retailers could communicate expected delivery delays to customers, stipulating delivery timeframes on their shopping pages. They can also warn customers that, even when selecting speedier options, allowing 1-2 additional days for an order to arrive is expected during this period. Encourage customers to be understanding while waiting for orders, as couriers are under additional pressure to deliver an unprecedented number of parcels. It is also important for customers to check tracking notifications, which will often communicate any delays, before contacting customer service staff, who are similarly under pressure.