Parcelhub, the leading provider of multi-carrier delivery management and outsourced tracking support, experienced a 250% increase in parcel traffic and a 100% spike in delivery tracking queries during the early stages of lockdown. So, how has Parcelhub coped, and how have these trends impacted online retailers and consumers?
Parcelhub, like many of our customers, suppliers and consumers, had to adapt quickly to the change in the way we all operate. The pandemic lockdown has created fertile ground for the UK’s 200,000 online retailers, catalysing a rise in entrepreneurialism, increasing internet adoption and accelerating e-commerce roughly 5 years into the future in a matter of months. Like the virus that led to this shift, these trends have been indiscriminate, impacting retailers in wildly different ways depending on their core product types.
While retail declined sharply during the early stages of lockdown, eCommerce growth helped overall retail sales bounce back in June fueled by online spending increases in food, electrical, hardware, and furniture. Several other segments including clothing stores and high street chains, however, were still feeling the effects of the pandemic.
At Parcelhub, this sharp rise in eCommerce parcel traffic mirrored national trends. James Hayes, Director of Business Development at Parcelhub, explains: “We were doing Christmas volumes in March and April, which was incredible. However, the mix of shipments had massively shifted. For example, fashion retail was down, whereas household items were up. This was causing issues in the supply chain and delivery networks as capacities were stretched more than ever.”
Simon Wright, Marketing Manager at Parcelhub added: “Like diversifying your delivery offering, during unpredictable major challenges it becomes all the more important to diversify your product categories, to ensure you can minimise dips in demand, and capitalise on sharp rises. In addition to integrating delivery options, Parcelhub specialises in the customer service element of the delivery journey. When you ring the retailer, for many of our customers it’s actually Parcelhub who answers the phone to help with delivery queries such as ‘Where is my order?’. As such, Parcelhub has had a ringside view of these changes and has been directly impacted by the UK’s accelerating shift towards total eCommerce adoption.”
Like all businesses in March 2020, Parcelhub had to react to government guidance and focus on keeping their employees safe whilst continuing to offer a high-quality service to their customers. Steve Marjoram, Managing Director at Parcelhub explained: “We mobilised 60+ people to work from home, covering sales, IT, CS, finance and account management. We had to focus on keeping our front-line workers moving whilst protecting them from the threat of Covid-19. We worked with customers and suppliers to ensure that we had Covid safe workspaces and collection procedures that allowed us to keep up with customer demands and keep our workforce safe in a fast-moving operational environment.”
In May 2020, Parcelhub’s order volumes increased by 250%, and the number of daily delivery tracking support tickets doubled to about 200 per customer support agent. With 60 of Parcelhub’s normally office-based workforce now working from home, Parcelhub was actually able to deliver even better customer service and an increase in productivity, as detailed in this video:
Steve continued: “Earlier this year in March, April and May, Parcelhub experienced a dramatic increase in parcels sent by our eCommerce customers. We had the flexibility in our workforce to keep up with the demands of our customers. All of our people rose to the challenge and I was immensely proud to see so many people show a positive, solution-focused attitude at a time that was clearly worrying for everyone involved.
“Our people make a real difference to what we do as a business and we received some great feedback from customers on individual and team performance. This team effort has seen us continue to keep pace through the relaxing of lockdown in the summer and through lockdown 2.0 and now into 2020’s second peak, Christmas. Despite the consistent, sustained increase in volume of parcels, the combined effort of our people and the strength of relationship with both customers and suppliers has shown Parcelhub to be a winning solution throughout the pandemic.
“The trend of consumer spending has changed, but what has been fantastic to see is that we have welcomed new customers, such as Doughnotts, who have innovated in their businesses, that were hard hit by the pandemic, to develop an online presence. There are some great stories to be celebrated and we are delighted to have been able to help them quickly establish a cost-effective multi-carrier solution.
“Parcelhub has also had to innovate and a real win for us has been the expansion of our customer service operations to match the increase in parcel volume. Homeworking for our CS team has allowed us to increase operating hours to provide better customer support whilst giving the team flexibility around how and when they work to fit with childcare, homeschooling and their other family commitments.”
Steve concluded: “Our multi-carrier solution, IT capabilities and outsourced tracking support continues to offer solutions and flexibility for our customers, both large and small. We have had to work through challenges with many of them and I believe that our consultative approach to shipping parcels has really helped them. We continue to be proud to serve our customers and help them navigate the challenges, which right now just keep coming.”