Surge in online shopping set to generate over 1.35bn deliveries a year by 2018, Barclays reports

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Online retail is expected to see significant growth in deliveries over the next four years, according to a new report from Barclays, as people increasingly use smartphones and tablets to place orders and take advantage of new flexible and convenient delivery options.

The research, independently commissioned by Barclays’ retail and transport & logistics banking sector teams, reveals that in 2013, products ordered online generated just over 1bn deliveries; by 2018 this figure is expected to grow to over 1.35bn, a 29% increase.

The report shows that growth will largely be driven by clothing and footwear, but that the food and grocery market will also become increasingly important, overtaking books in the number of deliveries by 2018, as grocers introduce more convenient and flexible delivery and collection services.  Electricals is forecast to be the highest growth sector for deliveries, with the number of packages expected to increase by 61% over the next four years.

Volume of deliveries by product: 2013-18

Rank Volume of deliveries by product in 2018 (number in brackets shows the number of deliveries in 2013) % increase in delivery by product from 2013
1 Clothing & Footwear  – 256m (170m) 51%
2 Music & Film – 245m (159m) 54%
3 Food – 186m (134m) 20%
4 Books – 161m (134m) 39%
5 Health & Beauty – 150m (102m) 48%
6 Electricals – 105m (65m) 61%
7 Other – 61m(51m) 19%
8 Homeware – 31m (28m) 13%
9 Toys – 25m (20m) 22%
10 DIY & Gardening – 25m (20m) 27%
11 Sports – 11m (9m) 20%

1Other includes: furniture, flooring, medical instruments, stationery, news items and other miscellaneous items

Interestingly, the report shows that the number of people buying digital film and music downloads is expected to decline by 39%, falling from 160 million to 98 million, which is a natural evolution as a result of the increasing popularity of subscription-based services.

Richard Lowe, head of retail & wholesale at Barclays, said: “Not only is the online purchasing and delivery market growing, it is also having to evolve quicker and more radically than previously. Driven by the increasing use of tablet and mobile devices, almost seven in ten consumers say they are looking for more innovative and rapid delivery options such as Sunday delivery.  Although they seek more flexibility in delivery options, consumers are still very conscious of keeping prices low with cost influencing consumers preference more than any other factor including quality of service.

“Already, retailers are starting to introduce more convenient and flexible delivery services such as non- store based click and collect pick up points.  However, with the online sales momentum set to continue, our research shows that it is more important than ever for retailers to reassess their online strategy and boost investment in the online fulfilment process to maximise the benefits of this growing market place.”

Other key findings from the report:

  • Nearly 30% of retailers would use click and collect as their preferred delivery option although less than 20% of consumers have used this service in the past year
  • Whilst the majority of retailers believe online shopping and delivery have benefited their sales numbers, over 30% believe it has been detrimental to costs
  • Letterbox-sized packages and small parcels made up 60% of all deliveries from online orders in 2013 and letterbox-sized packages are set to see the highest growth by 2018, growing by 45%
  • East Anglia is to see the biggest growth in deliveries, while the South East is set to remain as the region with the highest number. Regions where people live closer to towns and cities will see slightly lower growth

Volume of deliveries by region: 2013-18

Rank 2013 2018 % increase
1 East Anglia – 97m East Anglia – 131m 35%
2 Yorks/Humberside – 92m Yorks/Humberside – 122m 33%
3 South West – 91m South West – 121m 33%
4 Wales – 54m Wales – 71m 31%
5 Scotland – 96m Scotland – 125m 30%
6 North West – 104m North West – 134m 29%
7 London – 131m London – 167m 27%
8 East Midlands – 73m East Midlands – 92m 26%
9 South East – 142m South East – 178m 25%
10 West Midlands – 94m West Midlands – 117m 24%
11 Northern Ireland – 33m Northern Ireland – 41m 24%
12 North East – 45m North East – 55m 22%