Black Friday’s Impact on British Couriers

Source: TNT/FedEx

Black Friday 2019 is right around the corner, and while consumers are looking forward to shopping around and taking advantage of all the increased sales on offer in the run up to Christmas, the newly adopted American phenomenon can cause somewhat of a logistical nightmare for the courier industry.

Busy enough as it is with the boom in online shopping in general causing an increase in demand already, online retailers attempting to one-up each other by offering discounted express shipping and next day guaranteed delivery on orders over a certain amount severely ramps up the pressure on couriers in an extremely small window of time. While, of course, it’s never bad to busy – delivery companies are still getting paid – managing resources to successfully juggle the extended workload is an effort in itself.

According to figures from this time last year, a staggering £1.4b was spent over the Black Friday weekend in 2017, representing an 11.7% increase from 2016. Conversely, high street sales fell, with 3.6% less people present in-store as a result. Far more convenient than in the past where making the most of sales required an early start in order to beat the queues, these days, around 39% of Black Friday purchases are made via smartphone.

What Effect Does That Have on The Courier Industry?

It’s estimated that last year 225,000,000 parcels were delivered on Black Friday, with larger online retailers like Amazon sending out a full delivery truck from one of their various warehouses every 1 minute and 33 seconds.

Even the Royal Mail, with over 160,000 staff of their own, had to employ an extra 19,000 to combat the demand. In total, around 82,000 delivery vehicles are required across the UK in order to ensure all those Black Friday orders are completed in time, which is a 52% increase overall.

Having had time to adjust to the explosion in popularity of Black Friday, most major courier companies have now settled in to a rhythm surrounding those dates, ensuring that they’re well prepared in advance, with contingency plans in place to ensure that their workflow will remain as steady and reliable as possible during that period.

One major area of improvement has been in returns policy, with around £1b worth of purchases made due to be sent back almost immediately. With competing couriers looking for ways to offer increasingly better services, a major way of encouraging repeat custom is by making the returns procedure as pain-free and convenient as possible.

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