Demand has driven many to make their own deliveries

delivery van being loaded

E-commerce businesses are literally taking delivery into their own hands, according to new research.

In a survey of 100 small and medium-sized retailers, almost all have seen an increase in online orders since March last year and two thirds of online retailers have had to invest in their own delivery fleet to meet customer demand.

The survey comes at a time when e-commerce retailers are grappling with the impact of delivery driver shortages, Brexit uncertainty, supply chain issues and Covid restrictions.

More than a fifth of the businesses contacted revealed they had hired between five and 10 new fleet drivers, meaning that eight in ten of e-commerce emerged as positive about the next 12 months, despite ongoing economic issues.

Man in a vanBut the research also exposed the additional strain this has placed on many, according to its author, Vimcar, the fleet management software company. Three quarters said that expanding their delivery fleet had made admin more difficult to manage, highlighting a need for e-commerce businesses to simplify the management of rapidly growing fleets.

Ronald Clancy, UK Country Manager, said: “It is promising to see that business is thriving for e-commerce retailers despite an extremely turbulent 18 months. There remain many wider economic challenges for small businesses to overcome and what this research shows is that many e-commerce SMEs are having to rapidly adapt their business models in order to remain agile and continue to meet customer demand.”

Over a third of survey respondents expect demand in delivery to increase further, reflecting wider industry reports on increasing delivery volumes in the lead up to the peak Christmas season.

Clancy added: “Efficient fleet management will be crucial to the ongoing success of small and medium sized retailers as poorly managed fleets and drivers can quickly drain a business’ costs and resources. Simplifying fleet management is therefore vital to any e-commerce retailer wanting to maximise the investment they’ve made into delivery services.”

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