Cyber Monday: 4m parcels ‘will be late’
Shops can’t handle online demand, expert claims
THE delivery of more than four million web purchases made on Black Friday and Cyber Monday could be delayed.
A logistics expert says retailers do not have the staff, computer systems or couriers to cope with the huge spike in sales.
Last year many stores’ delivery operations went into meltdown following the Black Friday surge. There were long delays, with one courier firm forced to stop accepting new parcels temporarily and freelance delivery drivers complaining they were swamped.
This year’s problems could affect as many as one in ten of the more than 40million items purchased – although they should arrive before Christmas.
Shoppers spent a record £1.1billion online on Friday – up 36 per cent on the same day last year and an all-time record for UK web stores. The retail industry predicted another £ 943million on Cyber Monday yesterday – supposedly the specific day for online bargain-hunting – which would be a rise of 31 per cent on 2014.
The figures could spell a disappointing Christmas for bricks-andmortar High Street stores – many of which failed to attract shoppers despite big promotions. Logistics expert Stuart Higgins, from LCP Consulting, said Black Friday’s web orders alone equated to around 22million parcels, with a similar volume generated yesterday.
But he added: ‘A staggering 10 per cent of that won’t be delivered on time and that’s because retailers haven’t got their back end fulfilment capabilities – their organisation, processes and infrastructure – in place to cope with the marketing hype that has been created.’
He told BBC Breakfast that delivery delays risk bringing the entire sales event – imported to Britain from the US – into disrepute. ‘Retailers need to ask themselves, should they continue to promise against a marketing front end and not be able to deliver in the back end, or should they wind back their offers in order to be able to guarantee they can deliver to the customer each and every time,’ he said. While online spending has taken off over the past four days, the number of customers visiting the High Street, malls and out-of-town retail parks was down on last year.
The shift may have been driven by ugly scenes on Black Friday 2014, when shoppers pushed, shoved and fought over cut-price TVs.
The company Springboard, which measures shopper numbers, said the total visiting all stores fell by 8 per cent on Black Friday compared to a year ago. High Street shopper numbers were down 9.3 per cent. John Lewis said Black Friday 2015 was its biggest ever trading day – with sales up by 11.9 per cent on last year – but the success was driven by its website.
The retailer insisted its delivery services were able to cope with the orders, which at one stage arrived at a rate of 4.9 every second.
Popular items were wearable gadgets such as Fitbit fitness trackers, which saw sales rise 1,329 per cent on last year. Dyson vacuum cleaners, GHD hair straighteners and Lego also sold well.
‘Deliver each and every time’