Wayfair has extended its free UK delivery policy to Scotland and Northern Ireland in response to activist pressure.
The US retailer will now offer free delivery on orders over £40 and a standard delivery fee of £4.99 in the two UK countries, according to a politician who is leading a campaign against “rip off” surcharges. Previously Wayfair had added a surcharge for remote areas.
Richard Lochhead, a member of the Scottish parliament, founded the campaign against the “delivery tax”, encouraging consumers to come forward to publicise their stories of high delivery charges. He also raised the issue in the UK’s main parliament at Westminster, with a government minister responding that customers should “shop around” for better deals.
Research by Citizens Advice Scotland in December 2017 found that consumers in northern Scotland paid at least 30% more than customers elsewhere in the UK. A separate report by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre said surcharges resulted in £36 million in additional costs for Scottish consumers per year.
The move by Wayfair is important for two reasons: firstly, it shows that this sort of political pressure can be effective. Secondly, it may give them a competitive advantage over rivals in these countries.
The issue of surcharges was raised by MetaPack CEO Patrick Wall at the recent Delivery Conference. Wall told eDelivery that while carriers currently subsidise some routes with others, some form of differential pricing would be needed in more remote areas as this was “not sustainable”.
He said that couriers cooperating to cover all areas might provide a way out of this impasse, especially with the threat of new entrants that serve more limited areas.
Martin Reiter, head of Europe at Wayfair, said: “Over the past three years our European brand awareness and footprint has grown tremendously, allowing us to scale our fast and seamless delivery of furnishings and decor to offer a best in class shopping experience for home. Starting now we are pleased to offer free UK delivery on all orders over £40 – from a small parcel decor order to a large parcel furniture set – at no extra charge to our customers regardless of where they live.”