Black Friday is upon us. The US import, which is arguably just a PR stunt for UK retailers, has once again caused discount hysteria.
Even away from the high street, where the media flocks to witness fist-fights over discounted TVs, this flash sale causes problems. No more so than for the couriers tasked with getting these bargains into customers’ hands.
This is an ongoing problem for retailers, who have been slow to get up to speed in fulfilling customers' delivery expectations. By fuelling mayhem with flash sales, they risk damaging their reputations in the long-term.
The last two months of the year account for 40 per cent of all parcel deliveries in the UK. If forecasts are right, the UK logistics business needs to handle an average of over 10 million parcels every working day until Christmas. If the estimated peaks of Black Friday are reached, this could easily become 30 million parcel deliveries in one day.
Figures produced by Experian, in conjunction with IMRG, the UK’s industry association for online retailers warned spending on Black Friday this year could rise to £1.07bn – the first time ever that UK online retail sales exceed £1bn in a single day.
It's impossible for the courier companies to hope to deliver this volume, especially for next-day delivery – but this is what retailers are continuing to promise consumers.
And so consumers are left disappointed, couriers frustrated, and retailers risk their reputations. We need to tackle this challenge – known in the industry as the "last mile" – and get parcels into customers' hands without putting so much pressure on the system.
With innovations in technology, click and collect services and local parcel delivery networks, we now have the opportunity to put the control back into the hands of the customer – but it is up to retailers to play their part.
The statistics prove they would benefit from paying more attention to giving customers a better delivery service.
More figures by IMRG UK Consumer Home Delivery Review 2015 made clear how important it is for retailers to meet this challenge, with 70 per cent of consumers saying a good delivery experience will help keep them loyal to a retailer.
It’s clear retailers and couriers have to work together and in smarter ways to cope with demand. They must use open networks and new technologies to tackle this challenge, thereby reducing waste and improving a service that is well overdue a reboot.
Unfortunately, this will only work if retailers pay attention to consumer needs and make deliveries as much of a priority as volume sales.