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Parcel Delivery: Delivery services in the online shopping market

16 June 2017

The boom in e-retail in recent years has driven a surge in parcel delivery services. People of all ages and in all parts of the UK are increasingly reliant on being able to receive goods direct to their door. It is important that retailers and parcel operators work together to meet their interests through fair pricing, fast, convenient and flexible delivery, and ease of redress when things go wrong.

Our report Parcel Delivery [ 0.53 mb] explores consumer experiences of parcel delivery services in the online shopping market. We set out the scale and type of problems online shoppers experience with parcel delivery, their rights to redress, and the extent to which these rights are taken up and upheld in practice.

This report is based on two studies commissioned by Citizens Advice:

Consumer rights for parcel delivery [ 2.6 mb], carried out by Europe Economics.

Transparency and ease of online delivery [ 1.7 mb], carried out by Verve.  

The report shows that nearly seven in ten online shoppers have experienced a problem with parcel delivery services in the last year, including delayed, lost and damaged parcels. Problems with failed delivery are also common, partly due to a lack of safe spaces and pick-up points for people who cannot wait in for a parcel. Access to redress is limited by low awareness and take up among consumers. This is exacerbated by a lack of clear information from many online retailers and parcel delivery companies about how to seek redress and a sometimes poor quality service when consumers do take action.

The research points to three areas for further investigation:

How to reduce the number of consumer problems: ​Failed deliveries could be reduced by investing in community pick-up points and requiring every new-build home to have a parcel locker.

How to improve consumer awareness and uptake of their rights: ​A voluntary certification scheme could encourage retailers and parcel companies to adopt HM Government guidance on information provision for online shoppers about their rights.

● How to ensure consumers’ rights to redress are upheld: ​If best practice is not adhered to voluntarily there may be a case for stronger regulatory intervention.