Parcel service Hermes is to introduce four-hour delivery slots, meaning customers will no longer have to wait at home all day for their online shopping.
The new feature will apply to both next-day and standard delivery purchases, as well as returns, according to retail trade press reports.
Hermes is the first delivery company to offer such a narrow timeslot. Around ten companies now operate in the UK’s rapidly growing courier market, which is worth £7.8 billion annually.
Hermes’ delivery window has been launched following a trial with UK retailers, and will be shortened to just two hours later this year.
According to the company’s CEO Carole Woodhead, around two thirds of consumers worry about leaving their homes when they are expecting a delivery. “A Retail Week study said 91% of end customers view time windows as the most important feature when selecting a delivery service,” she told the Retail Times.
A growing market
A Mintel report last year showed that 94% of all Britons used a courier or express delivery service in the six months to April.
Online shopping in the UK grew by 16% in 2015 to £52 billion and now accounts for 15% of all transactions (excluding holidays, cars, petrol and tickets). More than 2 billion parcels are delivered in the UK every year.
It has become so popular with Londoners that mayor Boris Johnson has urged courier companies to set up neighbourhood collection points in order to ease congestion caused by delivery vans.
Hermes, which has a 5% market share, hopes that allowing shoppers to select a time slot will reduce the amount of customer enquiries it receives.
The announcement comes as both Hermes and its rival delivery company DPD announced they have invested in huge warehouses in an attempt to take market share from Royal Mail.
Edited by Max Burnell