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Retail Delivery Market Shift: 1 in 4 UK Couriers Pivoting Business Model

Despite rising inflation, record-high fuel costs and increasing demand for rapid delivery, study reveals half of UK couriers now deliver up to 50% more parcels than they did pre-Covid.

A new survey has highlighted that UK couriers are adapting to the shifting delivery market, with 27% of UK courier companies pivoting their business model in 2022.

According to the ONS, the proportion of UK retail sales taking place on the internet has risen by 51% over the last four years. A strong relationship between retailers and couriers is essential for meeting customer demand, particularly when navigating challenges such as fluctuating operational and supply chain costs.

The study finds that 24% of UK couriers say their delivery service has felt increased demand from the retail and fashion industry over the last two years. They subsequently call for increased collaboration to continue thriving and meeting customer needs.

Other sectors that couriers highlighted as needing increased collaboration with included food & drinks products (21%); construction (21%); agriculture, forestry & fishing (18%); health / medical (16%); and hospitality, events & food service (15%).

The Courier Support Survey – conducted by return loads platform Courier Exchange – includes input from 287 courier company owners and drivers, from across the UK. It highlights the greatest pressures within the sector, and the impact on company viability and employee health. It also offers insight on how industry issues can be overcome.

Full survey findings available here: https://courierexchange.co.uk/blog/the-2022-courier-support-survey/

UK Couriers

How Couriers Are Pivoting Their Business Model

In the survey, 72% of couriers cited spiralling operating costs as being a major challenge. Demand, however, is not a problem: half of courier companies now deliver up to 50% more parcels than they did pre-Covid.

The study also found that courier business owners are committed to adapting to take advantage of high demand – and head off external economic factors. 59% of courier businesses are looking to increase their customer base in 2022. Plus, two-thirds (66%) have implemented a new measure to attract staff, such as increased salaries, referral schemes and ramping up social media presence.

Another encouraging sign is that over one in eight couriers believe embracing technology can relieve everyday pressures.

But retailers and other businesses who use couriers can also help. For example, Boohoo has reintroduced its returns fee to help combat costs, which could reduce pressure on couriers as people become more thoughtful about what they order. Greater communication and support between different sectors can help to alleviate the economic issues and external pressures that couriers – and so many other businesses – are experiencing.

Almaz Cleary, sales manager at Courier Exchange, says:

“The problem with online shopping is that it’s been an explosion in demand, rather than sustainable development. This has left the courier industry with some catching up to do, in terms of capacity. It’s great that couriers are looking to tech for answers, but there needs to be more collaboration with retailers – and other sectors – particularly in the short term.

“Everyone is impacted by supply chain issues, because the logistics industry is so closely linked to everyday operations in all kinds of sectors. It’s vital that couriers and their customers keep lines of communication open and support each other as much as possible, especially when external factors like inflation are so far beyond anybody’s control.

“When all parties are on the same page, supply chain issues can be better managed. If that happens, everyone wins and can benefit from the strong demand we’re continuing to see.”