Online shopping has never been more popular; but the frenzied purchasing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday poses "no problem" for the logistics industry as delivering the goods is "just part of the service." Over 113 million Christmas shoppers spent more than £500 million in a single day on Monday (2 December). Dubbed "Cyber Monday" it is one of the biggest shopping days of the year for British retailers, and this year it has broken all previous online records.
Internet retailer Amazon UK reported its busiest shopping day as consumers took to the internet and placed orders at a rate of 47 items a second, totalling £4.1 million sales on that day alone, topping the previous record of 4 million sales that had been set only three days before on "Black Friday."
"With the increasing popularity of online shopping, the logistics industry is integral to ensuring that the goods arrive with the customer on time, and vans play a huge part in that," says Mark Cartwright, FTA Head of Vans and Logistics Buyers. "Everything from groceries to clothes, sofas to mobile phones, whatever it is – the chances are if it has been ordered online it has probably been delivered in a van. In fact, if Father Christmas should be looking to upgrade his sleigh, my advice to him would be to get surfing the net and buy a van today."
Christmas is traditionally the busiest time of the year for the freight and logistics industry, which is tasked with delivering the purchased goods. But the prospect of delivering millions of packages poses no problem for freight operators who specifically adapt their work schedules in order to cope with the increase in orders, and ensure every item purchased is delivered in time.
So how does the logistics industry prepare for the expected onslaught?
Royal Mail is the leader in the UK parcels market for both parcel volume and revenue and has 33,000 vans in its fleet.
Royal Mail spokesperson Nick Landon said:
"Online shopping is now such a key part of the Christmas shopping experience. Royal Mail has invested in ten temporary parcel sort centres to increase our scale and improve our flexibility during this important time of year for our customers. As we always do at this time of the year, we encourage people to order their presents online early to help us spread the workload during the busy festive period."
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is supporting its members who have had to adapt their work schedules in order to cope with the increase in orders and deliveries at their busiest time of the year.
In addition to online shopping, thousands of shops in out-of-town centres and high streets all have to be delivered to, as well as food and drink to pubs and restaurants. Whether for long-distance trunking, regional distribution, shop or home deliveries, the ability of the logistics industry to adapt to the huge demands of the festive season with slick efficiency is a great credit to all of those engaged in the work – warehouse staff, drivers, transport office personnel and managers.
Mr Cartwright concluded:
"As millions of online shoppers take advantage of the convenience of home shopping, the logistics industry has had to ‘step up to the mark’ to get those goods to their homes, and Van Excellence members do this on a daily basis. FTA thanks its members for all the invaluable work they do; the efficiency of the logistics industry can sometimes be taken for granted – we expect goods to be delivered to the shop or the home on time and in the right quantity and condition. The reality is that this is a highly complex and sophisticated process of supply chain management and operation which results in items being delivered to the right place, at the right time. The freight and logistics industry should be recognised and congratulated for its work not just at Christmas but throughout the year."