The boom in internet shopping for larger items is expected to surge ahead in the next five years – with an extra 172 million deliveries a year by 2018.
Shoppers’ reluctance to order large items online is melting away as people become more accustomed to surfing the web and as more of the UK – especially rural areas – gets access to reliable high speed broadband.
The change in shopping habits was revealed in a recent report published by Barclays bank that predicted more than £1.3 billion worth of goods would be ordered online in the UK in 2018.
And with a predicted rise of 40% in deliveries of larger items, from 360 million a year in 2013 to 507 million in 2018, there will be more need than ever before for two-man and assisted deliveries.
Panther Warehousing, which offers dedicated white-glove, two-man or one-man assisted deliveries of large or delicate items, is already tapping into the new trend and has nearly doubled its turnover since 2012.
Colin McCarthy, Managing Director of the Northamptonshire-based company, said: “People are getting more and more used to shopping on the internet and now they aren’t just looking at new phones or the latest fashions – they are ordering much larger items such as beds, garden furniture and electrical goods.
“And they don’t want to wait weeks for delivery, they expect to see their purchases the next day or, occasionally – for example if they have ordered a bed or mattress – on a day of their choice instead.
“Traditional slow delivery just doesn’t work for them and they are quite likely to order from another retailer if they cannot get their goods quickly. Times have changed and retailers need to keep up.”
Rural shoppers in particular, who may have been put off ordering online in the past because they had slow and patchy internet connections, are turning to shopping online once they get a reliable internet service.
Panther’s dedicated white-glove delivery service has proved so popular with customers that the company has rapidly grown, with turnover nearly trebling from £11 million in 2012 to a projected £30 million this year.
It has recently re-located to Lodge Farm Industrial Estate in Northampton, a site that is three times larger than its previous base in Crick, Northamptonshire, and which has a 25 bay cross-docking facility.
Panther’s speciality is a dedicated next-day, two-man, white-glove, delivery service that allows orders to be placed as late as 6.30pm for delivery the next day from 7am onwards to England, Wales and southern Scotland.
For those who want the care and attention of a Panther delivery, however, but do not require their goods the next day, the company offers a range of other services, including same-day, day-of-choice and 48/72 hour deliveries.
“We are always ready to listen to our customers and they told us that in some circumstances they would rather be able to choose a delivery day than opt for the fastest service,” explained Colin.
“We extended our offer accordingly and will continue to listen to our customers to ensure they in turn can offer the services which their customers are demanding.”
With the move to Northampton, Panther’s workforce rose to 200 and the company also has between 200 and 300 owner-drivers working for it. The company has six depots across the country.