First-time delivery attempts slip during holiday season in UK and Germany


The UK and German e-commerce sales remained strong in 2021 as consumers shunned stores in favor of buying goods online.

According to BRC/KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, e-commerce sales of non-food products increased 14.3% from 2020, while overall retail sales increased 9.9% for the same period.

Meanwhile, e-commerce sales in Germany increased 19% from 2020.

Sporadic delays throughout 2021 were reported in the UK and Germany as last-mile volumes, at times, overwhelmed fleets that were short on workers due to COVID-19 or other reasons.

Parcel Monitor, a community dedicated to sharing e-commerce logistics insights, notes that first-time delivery attempts in the UK from November 1-21, 2021, were lower versus the similar period of November 2-22, 2020.  Successful delivery attempts of 93.7% compared to 95.6% in 2020 were recorded.  The lower percentage in 2021 was likely due to early holiday online shopping because of concerns of potential shortages of goods.

A potential shortage of goods was also a concern for German consumers, who opted to shop early in the holiday season. However, first-time delivery attempts did not appear to deteriorate as much as in the UK compared to 2020.  For 2021, 95.4% of first-time delivery attempts were successful compared to 95.8% in 2020.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales proved popular in the UK and Germany as consumers looked for deals. According to Barclaycard, the UK recorded its biggest Black Friday sales ever, with sales up 23% between midnight and 5 pm compared to the same period in 2020, and sales were up 2.4% compared to 2019.

The German retail association HDE expected e-commerce sales to increase 27% in Germany.

Due to strong sales, first-time delivery attempts dipped immediately following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, year-over-year, in the UK and Germany.

In the UK, 93.4% of first-time delivery attempts were successful for November 22 – December 12, 2021, compared to 95.4% for November 23-December 13, 2020.

Meanwhile, in Germany, 95.7% of first-time delivery attempts were successful compared to 96.1% for the same period in 2020.

Prepare for the 2022 holiday season now

As we enter the second month of 2022, retailers should already be preparing for the holiday season – forecasting inventory and budgeting last-mile costs in particular.

Multiple last-mile delivery attempts are costly for retailers, so getting it right the first time is essential.

Among the ways to lower these costs include:

  • Letting customers choose and change delivery windows at the point of sale.
  • Tracking an order from placement to delivery is essential. Proactive messaging enables automated communication to keep the customer informed throughout this process.
  • Invest in omnichannel fulfillment systems that reoptimize transport schedules as new orders are added. By planning customer collection and home delivery services in the same system, users can maximize operational efficiency and provide consistent, reliable service.
  • Using a proof of delivery helps to complete the order fulfillment process. This ensures confirmation of successful deliveries and requires information like photographs, notes, and signatures to manage delivery issues promptly.

Source: Transport Intelligence, February 3, 2022

Author: Cathy Morrow Roberson