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The longest last mile is Sunday delivery

02 June 2014

The recently privatised Royal Mail has announced it will make parcel deliveries on Sundays.

Royal Mail Group’s express parcels business, Parcelforce Worldwide, will make the service available to contract customers across the UK. Shoppers who choose the Sunday service will receive a text message between 30 and 90 minutes before delivery.

It will also pilot Sunday afternoon opening at around 100 of its delivery offices across the UK later this summer; and trial Sunday parcel deliveries later this summer to addresses within the M25.

Royal Mail has recently opened its distribution network later on a Saturday and on Sundays. This new service enables larger e-retailers to hand items ordered by shoppers on a Saturday afternoon and Sunday to Royal Mail for delivery on Monday.

CEO Moya Greene says: "Through these new Sunday services we are exploring ways to improve our flexibility and provide more options for people to receive items they have ordered online.

"The support of the Communication Workers Union has enabled us to respond quickly to a changing market, underlining the importance of the ground-breaking Agenda for Growth agreement.”

Royal Mail's development is part of a growing industry-wide trend.

In January, Amazon Logistics started a Sunday delivery service for Amazon Prime members in selected cities in England.

Shortly after, Hermes launched a Sunday delivery service, initially as a next day service, with customers able to order all day Saturday for a Sunday delivery.

DPD announced on 1st May that it will launch a nationwide express Sunday delivery service, covering over 98% of the UK population in July. The service will offer a one hour timeslot delivery window with real-time 'in-flight' delivery options.

DPD CEO Dwain McDonald says: "We've had a fantastic response from retailers wanting to set-up Sunday deliveries. Many of them have run 24/7 operations for some time, but the parcel volumes now being discussed mean that Sunday deliveries have become very viable for us.


"While Royal Mail's trial is significant, I believe our offering is light years ahead and far more appealing to recipients and retailers. With Predict, recipients get a text or email notification the day before and then an exact notification of their one hour delivery slot."

As well as faster deliveries, today’s consumer expects a more flexible parcel delivery service, says parcel locker network firm InPost.


Commercial director Michelle De Pasquale says: "Although it is interesting to hear Royal Mail’s announcement of a Sunday delivery trial within the M25, the latest IMRG statistics have found that 56% of UK consumers are not at home, even on Sunday, during normal delivery hours. 

Opening some offices on a Sunday is a start but today’s consumer no longer expects to have to plan their day around parcel delivery with ‘click & collect’ to a store, or a local collection point, beginning to put them firmly back in control. Parcel lockers with their flexibility and convenience are now the next evolutionary step of this concept.”

In a similar vein, the click & collect specialist CollectPlus recently announced plans to grow its store network by 33% this year, to 7,500 stores.

CollectPlus’ current network is just over 5,500 outlets, which is just under half the size of the Post Office.

The firm, which is a joint venture between PayPoint and Yodel, has a longer term aspiration of achieving 12,000 stores.

Royal Mail also announced its first financial results since privatisation. UKPIL (UK Parcels, International and Letters) said revenue was £7.8 billion, up 2%.

Parcel revenue increased by 7% to £3.2bn while letter revenue declined to £4.6bn, a 2% reduction.

Parcel volumes (1,068 million items) were flat compared with 2012-13. The increase in revenue stemmed from changes in pricing structures by weight of parcel.

MD of courier ParcelHero, Roger Sumner-Rivers, says the internet is a double-edged sword for Royal Mail.

"The problem for Royal Mail specifically is the continued slow collapse of the traditional letters market. It is no surprise the organisation is calling for safeguards to its traditional stamp-based letters service,” he says.

"While the parcels market reflects the positive side of online purchasing, the decline of the letters market reflects that the vast majority of us will email or text rather than send a traditional letter. The growth of the internet has proved to be a two edged sword for the Royal Mail.”