How a Year of COVID Affected Europe’s E-Commerce Logistics
Note: This updated study on the impact of COVID-19 on Europe: Germany, UK, and France utilized data available throughout the entirety of 2020. Our previous reports on the Impact of COVID on Europe’s Logistics and How COVID-19 Affected E-Commerce Deliveries in the UK used data that was available up to July and September respectively, thus accounting for the differences in the data reported.
After examining the impact of COVID on Europe’s logistics last July, we are back with the latest insights on the pandemic’s effect on Europe, specifically Germany, the United Kingdom (UK), and France.
While the pandemic has led to sluggish retail sales due to lockdown measures and a resurgence of COVID, Europe experienced a boom in e-commerce and saw the biggest revenue growth in 2020 as more consumers shopped online. Europe’s e-commerce market hit a whopping $425.2 billion in 2020, up $71 billion from the previous year. E-Commerce revenue in Europe is projected to exceed $500 billion by 2022, with all categories experiencing steady growth.
With COVID driving shoppers online, how has this impacted transit times and delivery success rates in 2020?
1. Higher Transit Times for Germany, UK and France
Similar to our findings after a year of COVID-19 in Australia, COVID had increased transit times for Germany, UK, and France.
Of the three countries, the UK experienced the longest transit time of 2.9 days in April. This was likely due to postal services such as Royal Mail seeing rising levels of sick absences, as well as their inability to adapt to the surge in parcel volumes, resulting in prolonged delays.
France had the second longest transit time, rising from 1.9 days pre-COVID to 2.8 days in April. Similar to the UK, with increased e-commerce activity for essentials causing more delivery delays of up to 10 days, as well as La Poste cutting back on its weekly deliveries, these were some factors causing the spike in transit time. Adding to that, France’s largest logistics couriers, Mondial Relay and Relais Colis, closed all their collection points during lockdown, leading to the increased transit time.
The UK continued to have the longest transit time out of its European counterparts. An explanation for this was Royal Mail’s struggle with restructuring itself from a “legacy letters business into a 21st century parcels company” throughout 2020.
As we question what the ‘new normal’ would look like, we look forward to seeing how logistics and supply chains would evolve to better manage the increase in parcel volume and potentially outperform pre-COVID transit times.
2. Delivery Success Rates Improved Significantly During COVID for Germany, UK, and France
Even though transit times increased during the pandemic, the number of successful deliveries was a lot higher during the pandemic compared to pre-COVID times.
Germany, UK, and France saw a steady increase in delivery success rates over the course of the pandemic (April to December 2020) – reaching averages of 92%, 94%, and 90% respectively. Before COVID (January to March 2020), Europe averaged 87% in terms of successful delivery rates, which jumped to as high as 92% and 93% during the first and second waves respectively.
Even during the pandemic, Europe’s successful delivery rates hovered around the 90% range!
An obvious reason for this is because more people were staying at home because of lockdown orders; consumers in these three countries were also embracing alternative delivery options more.
Collection points, for instance, became an increasingly popular and utilised delivery method for many consumers in Europe. These alternative delivery methods offer both consumers and carriers a more flexible, convenient and efficient option compared to regular home deliveries.
Even during the holiday season — Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday — Europe saw an 86% increase in e-commerce volume. Delivery success rates continued to hover around a high 92-94% across the region. This was likely due to many retailers as well as authorities like the British Retail Consortium encouraging consumers to do their holiday shopping earlier. Indeed, 59% of European consumers started their holiday shopping early in order to avoid delays and unsuccessful deliveries.
What’s Next for the Future of E-Commerce?
With the rollout of vaccines and the easing of lockdown restrictions throughout Europe, it may seem that the pandemic-driven boom in e-commerce might lose traction in the coming year.
Yet, the pandemic has strongly influenced shopping behaviour and is likely to impact e-commerce for years to come. As a result of this large shift towards online shopping, there is optimism surrounding Europe’s e-commerce market with it forecasted to reach almost $570 billion in value by 2025.
We are excited to see how the e-commerce landscape will evolve in Europe in time to come!
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