The E-Commerce Logistics Race Europe: Which Country Performed Better in Q1 2021?

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In our recent studies, we’ve compared the e-commerce logistics performance of different regions such as between the US and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and within Southeast Asia.

This week, we are heading up to Europe to compare key performance indicators between Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Poland.

While we covered some of these countries in our recent COVID’s Impact on Europe study, the growth of e-commerce shows no signs of stopping even in 2021. Europe’s e-commerce revenue is projected to exceed $450 billion by 2021 across all categories. Forecasts also suggest that e-commerce users will surpass the 500 million mark, which translates to 59.7% of the region’s population shopping online. 

With such impressive growth projected in the European e-commerce market, how has this affected the region’s e-commerce logistics performance? How have these European countries fared up against each other?

Transit Time to First Delivery Attempt: Germany and Poland tied for the fastest delivery in Q1 at a transit time of 1.4 days

While the UK and France had higher transit times of 1.9 days and 1.8 days respectively, both countries saw a significant improvement in transit times as compared to that of the height of the pandemic in April 2020. ​​

In the UK, lockdown restrictions were eased only towards the end of the quarter; social distancing and minimal manpower at workplaces were still being implemented then. In addition to the lockdown restrictions, Brexit happened from 1st January 2021. This had led to many retailers and businesses having to cut down or postpone their deliveries from the UK due to the new border controls. It was reported that many businesses transporting goods from European countries to the UK were experiencing delays since Brexit.

France’s average transit time was 1.8 days in the first quarter of 2021, which was a slight improvement from its pre-COVID transit time of 1.9 days. Nevertheless, it seems like the effects of Brexit did affect France as well, with many consumers experiencing delays in receiving their parcels during Christmas and facing delivery issues with other online orders.

Peak Season 2020: UK saw the largest growth in parcel volume, and transit time; whereas France’s transit time saw improvements

E-Commerce Logistics Race Q1 2021 Europe

Peak season refers to the holiday shopping season which consists of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas. While the growth in parcel volume during this period was similar at 62% for Germany, 65% for France and 63% for Poland, the UK saw record-breaking growth at 85%. The UK’s increase in transit time during peak season was also the highest at 29.1%. This was followed by Poland and Germany at 12.5% and 4.7% respectively.

The surge in the UK is likely due to a growing consumer preference towards online shopping. According to a report by the Office for National Statistics, retailers across all sectors in the UK reported large increases in online sales in 2020 with total online retailing values increasing by 46.1%; the highest annual growth experienced since 2008.

However, interestingly, France experienced a 9.1% decrease in transit time during one of the most busy online shopping periods of the year! The transit time during the first wave of COVID in France was so high that the transit time in peak season 2020 was comparatively low. On top of that, France seemed to be more prepared for peak season crunch time; for instance, one of their largest postal services companies La Poste hired 9,000 extra helping hands to cope with the peak season surge. 

Methodology for % change in transit time during peak season 2020 was calculated using the transit time during non-peak periods of 2020, against the transit time during peak period of 2020. We record the first attempt delivery success rate during the peak period of 2020.

France topped the use of collection points in Europe at 23.4%, followed by Poland

The trend of using parcel lockers and collection points has emerged since the pandemic outbreak and looks like it is here to stay. In France, we saw a whopping 23.4% of parcels delivered to collection points. A similar study by Statista found that 28% of consumers in France opted for Click and Collect to avoid extra costs. This was followed by Poland and Germany with 12.4% and 11.6% respectively, and the UK at 4.7%.

As we have observed in our previous studies, there seems to be a clear upward trend of collection points in Europe. According to our recent collaboration with RetailX, in response to this increase in consumer demand for collection points, 73% of top 50 retailers in Europe provide collection points as an alternative form of delivery to online shoppers. What this indicates is the increasingly widespread usage of collection points across the region and how it is likely to become a norm in the e-commerce world.

What Are Top Retailers in Europe Offering Consumers - Parcel Monitor

Who do you think won the race this time? It might be too early to conclude, especially with the rollout of vaccines and easing of lockdown restrictions across Europe. 

Nevertheless, we look forward to seeing how e-commerce logistics play out in this region as the respective European economies gradually reopen over the rest of the year. Keep a lookout for upcoming editions of our e-commerce logistics race.

For more exclusive reports, insights, and interviews on the latest updates in e-commerce and logistics, follow us on LinkedIn or join our community as a member.

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