The global spread of COVID-19 has brought much uncertainty and had a widespread impact across the economy. While many industries such as brick and mortar retail and hospitality have suffered a severe blow, others, like e-commerce, are blooming.
As we continue to brace for ambiguity when it comes to what the future and any return to normality will look like, one of the numerous reactions witnessed to how people are approaching this period of uncertainty is in enormous changes to their shopping behaviours.
The market is changing, and people are increasingly turning to e-commerce. As a result, companies are having to adapt and be flexible to meet the changing needs of their customers.
As COVID-19 quarantines and restrictions are still in place across the world, including Europe, the UK, and the US, there has been an enormous impact on the e-commerce, shipping and fulfilment industries. During this daunting and challenging time, we at Shiptheory want to keep you and your businesses as well informed as possible.
Here are the latest updates from delivery carriers and e-commerce platforms regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
Please note that these updates are subject to change. If in doubt, visit the website of the respective delivery carrier or e-commerce platform.
Due to factors like high levels of coronavirus-related absences and necessary social distancing measures, Royal Mail is temporarily suspending Saturday deliveries of untracked parcels from the 2nd of May. These will be delivered as usual Monday to Friday. The rest of the parcel services including 1st and 2nd Class Parcels, Royal Mail Tracked 24 and 48, Royal Mail Tracked Returns, Special Delivery Guaranteed and International tracked services will still be delivered on a Saturday. Saturday collections from businesses, post offices and post boxes will also continue as usual, and they plan to resume the six-day-a-week delivery from the 13th of June.
As COVID-19 is still impacting international deliveries, service to countries is changing daily. This bulletin provides their most up-to-date information on which countries have been put on suspension.
Hermes has announced that their delivery couriers will implement contact-free delivery by asking customers to choose a safe place for delivery. If a delivery place has not been specified, couriers will leave the parcel in a secure place, take a photo and send it in a notification email to the customer. Nevertheless, if there is not a safe place to leave parcels, delivery will be reattempted up to 3 times.
For parcels requiring a signature, their couriers will temporarily do this on behalf of the customer to avoid unnecessary contact via hand-held devices by asking the customer’s name when they open the door for security reasons.
DPD has lifted all postcode restrictions throughout Europe although minor delays should be expected. Their primary focus remains on implementing a number of social distancing practices to minimise contact between customers and couriers.
Parcelforce has announced that they will continue offering their services, receiving and delivering parcels for their customers but there may be disruptions to some services under current conditions. More specifically, they are suspending their loss and damage cover on all perishable items sent on or after the 27th of April while reassuring their customers that this cover will be reinstated as soon as possible. Additionally, the next available ad-hoc collection date will be on the 1st of June.
Like various other companies, in an effort to protect staff and customers, signatures will no longer be captured using a hand-held device. Instead, drivers will take down the first and the last name of the recipient for signed for deliveries. The company strongly advises customers not to travel to visit their depots to either hand over or collect parcels.
In response to COVID-19, DHL introduced a temporary Emergency Situation Surcharge in early April, applicable to all Time Definite International (TDI) shipments, to cover part of their operating cost increases and the necessary air network adjustments. The company adjusted the Emergency Situation Surcharge on the 24th of May as they changed their charging mechanism from a “charge per shipment” to a “charge per kilogram”.
UPS continues to deliver worldwide to support the increasing demand amid the ongoing coronavirus situation although effective April 12, during times of extreme volume surges, temporary Peak Surcharges may be implemented to ensure their network continues to operate effectively.
As previously announced, a Peak Surcharge applies to shipments from China Mainland and Hong Kong SAR to destinations in Europe. Effective May 31 and until further notice, the amount of the Peak Surcharges applied to these shipments will increase.
The peak surcharge applied to UPS Worldwide Express, UPS Worldwide Express Freight, UPS Expedited, and UPS Transborder Express shipments originating from Europe to anywhere in the world, and any other import shipments coming into and invoiced in Europe, will continue to apply.
Additionally, from March 26 the UPS Money Back Guarantee (also known as UPS Service Guarantee) for all shipments from any origin to any destination has been suspended.
The people in Amazon are still focusing on high-priority items to ensure the fastest delivery of household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into their fulfilment centres. Customers ordering delivery from Prime Now, Amazon Fresh, and Whole Foods Market can select "unattended delivery" during checkout.
Amazon continues their zero tolerance for price gouging. By monitoring their stores 24/7 through automated as well as manual means and making clear to all sellers of their longstanding policies, Amazon is working continually to protect customers, help ensure fair pricing, and combat those seeking to profit off the COVID-19 crisis.
Moreover, in response to huge increases in e-commerce demand, Amazon has hired so far 175,000 additional full- and part-time employees.