Online retailers and their carriers are delivering parcels almost 20% faster than usual, with the average delivery time reducing from 2.1 days to 1.7 days in the last two weeks, according to new internal data released today from parcelLab.

As the ongoing coronavirus crisis continues to unfold, the speed at which parcels from online orders are being delivered is showing to be quicker than usual, despite a surge in the number of online orders being made.

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parcelLab puts this down to a number of key factors. First of all, with so many people confined to their homes during the day, they are able to receive their parcel on the first try. Secondly, many carriers have removed the need for a signature on delivery, which again saves time as they can drop off the parcel even when people aren’t at home. More customers are likely opting for carriers to leave their parcel in a safe location, which again increases first-attempt delivery success. Finally, carriers are able to get from A to B much quicker as the roads are far less busy.

“It’s important now, perhaps more so than ever before, for retailers to be keeping customers up-to-date about the status of their order and inform them of any difficulties or delays immediately,” says Conor McGrath, Head of UK and Nordic Clients at parcelLab. “Putting proactive shipping notifications in place is vital right now. Customers are currently filled with uncertainty about whether their parcel will arrive on time or at all – which can cause real problems, especially if they are ordering essential goods. Excellent customer service and experience is vital at this time so there should be a focus on optimising this.”

The parcelLab data also shows that the electronics and IT industry, in particular, are benefiting from a surge in demand with a 28% increase in order volume over the past two weeks from online electronics and IT stores – likely due to the influx in customers ordering equipment to create a comfortable working environment from their new home office.

At the same time, online shops selling sports equipment, DIY goods, furniture and toys are experiencing a rapid increase in orders. Since bricks and mortar shops have been forced to close and people have more free time, customers are choosing to spend their money online instead. Even when everything returns to normal, this purchasing behaviour is likely to remain.

“The current crisis is a totally unpredictable situation,” adds McGrath. “It’s almost certain that we’ll see delivery delays and failures as more supply chain staff are off work sick, movement becomes more restricted and couriers announce new delivery measures and revised delivery options. Sadly, we cannot predict when this will happen, so good preparation is key and keeping your customers informed of where their parcel is, in real-time, at every stage of the journey will be imperative.”