Editor's Comment

European cross-border costs, Argos and others feel the heat, and a word of advice from SingPost

It came and it went … Black Friday passed, along with it Cyber Monday. The twin peaks, as it were, that usher in the Christmas peak season.

Far from wishing to sound like archetypal ambulance-chasers, so far at eDelivery we haven’t heard or seen anything calamitous happen in the delivery network, but – much at it pains me to say it – it’s still early days yet.

Certainly on the big day itself, some retailers were feeling the heat. Along with an excellent blow-by-blow account from the combined eDelivery and InternetRetailing teams into the load times of the websites of the leading 100 UK retailers in the IRUK500 research, we spotted Argos seeming to run out of same-day Fast Track availability by around midday on Black Friday.

The following morning, Twitter lit up with shoppers complaining that they’d paid for premium services but still hadn’t received their items. Which may well hint that attempts to limit demand for same-day and next-day delivery by making it a more expensive option don’t really work in the face of overwhelming peak volumes.

If that’s been the central plank of your peak survival strategy, you might not find it’s been the surefire win you hoped it would be.

And if one of our predictions comes true, there’s going to be increasing pressure on delivery methods as Black Friday dwindles in-store and expands online over the next few years (we’re not alone in thinking this, I should point out). But it will mean even more pressure on the weakest links in the delivery chain.

Elsewhere on eDelivery, we take our eyes off the calendar and look at two key European emerging trends. One is the increasing interest in buying direct from manufacturers; keen to get a good deal, this is now firmly on the shopping list of many European consumers. But while they’ve got their eye on a potential bargain, shoppers won’t settle for shoddy delivery and returns processes, meaning any manufacturer wanting to forge those kinds of customer relationships may be facing a very steep logistics learning curve.

Cross-border ecommerce is in the spotlight again, this time courtesy of some research from B2C Europe which reckons eight out 10 European shoppers have abandoned an online cart in the last six months – high delivery costs are one of the main culprits for this. This is an issue likely to become increasingly important in 2016 as the European Commission has made it clear it expects the industry to do more to encourage cross-border ecommerce. Failure to address delivery price disparities could lead to the Commission taking punitive steps to bring about its vision of a Europe where cross-border shopping is as simple and cheap as possible.

Maybe there’s something to be learned from the Asian delivery market? We have a brand new video interview with Sushant Mantry, regional managing director and head of international network development of Singapore Post, who spoke to us at the eDelivery Conference in October on that subject.

And we also consider the issue of returns, which as everyone knows, is the sting in the tail of a big lift in sales during peak. There’s a Costing Returns feature from eDelivery Magazine, and a guest-authored piece from Matt Robinson of NetDespatch looking at the issue too.

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