Record use of next-day services for orders in May, IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index shows


Online retail parcel delivery order volumes were up +14.8% year-on-year in May, according to the latest data from the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index. This strong uplift is in line with many other indicators of retail performance in May, when multiple factors – including the royal wedding and hot weather – appear to have driven shoppers to spend both online and in the high street. 

The shift over toward faster fulfilment was evident in May, when use of next-day / specified-day services hit a record high for this time of the year – at 37% of UK-delivered orders – as retailers look to use quality of experience, such as the delivery offer, to win and retain customers in what has proved to be an increasingly difficult and complex overall retail environment in 2018. 

While the percentage of orders using fast fulfilment options reached a high in May, that pressure, combined with strong volume growth, is likely to be a chief cause of a drop in on-time delivery performance, which reached its lowest May level in the history of the Index (88%). This is also the first time the percentage of deliveries arriving on-time has dipped beneath 90% in May.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG: “IMRG have carried out shopper surveys every year for the past nine years and what’s interesting about the move toward faster fulfilment is that customers haven’t really been asking for it – these studies have consistently found that two days is still perfectly acceptable. As technology and processes have evolved however, industry has come to view it as a potential differentiator in acquiring and retaining customers and their expectations are changing in line with that over time. A lingering question is whether they always know they are getting next-day; some orders are sent on premium services because customers require it and are prepared to pay for them, but many are not requested. How many ‘genuine’ next-day deliveries fail and how many orders are being delivered next-day when the customer does not actually expect them?” 

Maria Dahlqvist Canton, global marketing director, MetaPack, said: “The ‘holiday spirit’ in May with long weekends and the royal wedding has not only driven delivery order volumes, it seems also to have increased consumer spending. Average basket values went up to an average of £62 in May, an increase of 14% over the same month in 2017, and the highest average across all destinations in the history of the Index. Whilst we might expect much of this to be down to overseas buyers making the most of exchange rates, in fact it is UK to UK orders that are having the biggest impact.”