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A Reflection on Q1

Posted on March 31, 2021
by Emma Burgess

As we reach the last day of Q1, we reflect on the peaks and troughs and trends, that these first three months have brought to the logistics and e-commerce industry.

 January: Brexit

January marked the beginning of post-Brexit life for Britain. Whilst the complexity of cross border trade was never going to bring with it the simplicity that was felt from previous trading arrangements, the confusion of unclear rulings was felt by consumers, fulfilment services, courier providers and merchants alike. This first month of life after the trade-deal saw a considerable plunge of more than 40% in UK goods exported to the EU. The Office for National Statistics also said goods exported to the bloc fell by £5.6bn, while imports fell by 28.8%, or £6.6bn. As the uncertainty continued so did excessive courier delays disrupting the end-to-end fulfilment over Europe. Excessive charges and tariffs left some smaller EU retailers to cease trading to UK customers, whilst other merchants continue to distribute their orders without amending their VAT.

Whilst regulations and the future of Brexit life has become marginally clearer, our very own Mark Elward is on hand to give his top three tips on how to navigate the murky waters of trading in a Post Brexit world:

  1. Research the origins of all your goods & ensure your products have the right commodity codes.
  2. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this, look at which method of selling works best and makes the most sense for your business.
  3. If moving goods into NI, register with the Trader Support Service and check out their Northern Ireland Customs & Trade Academy.

February: Retail

The demise of the high street has been a looming cloud that shoppers and retail giants alike have seen looming over the horizon in recent years, but it wasn’t until February of this year did we see the high streets first casualties arise as the pandemic only fast-tracked those struggling businesses towards early closure.

Earlier this month 15-year-old online fashion retailer Boohoo acquired the Debenhams brand and website in a deal that cost the label £55m. The 242-year-old department store was already in the process of closing before administrators found their new buyer and marks a changing of the guard for UK retail. Two weeks later, online marketplace ASOS obtained Topshop. The high street staple fell victim to changes in consumer habits and trends. ASOS, currently worth $12.2 billion, purchased the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands but neglected the physical sites. The £295 million deal split between brands and stock comes after Sir Phillip Green’s retail empire, Arcadia, announced they had gone into administration last year.

March: Roadmap out of Lockdown

March marked the month that many of us in the UK have been waiting for. As of the 29th, it’s now legal to sit outside with five friends, or two households and in just two short weeks we’ll see non-essential retail stores and gyms opening their doors, as well as pubs, restaurants and cafes welcoming customers for outdoor dining.

As many of us have spent the past year, working, shopping, and socialising from home, our dependence on all fulfilling such past times relies totally on eCommerce, but as restrictions are lifted, what will happen to the habits we’ve obtained in this time?

Research conducted in October 2020 indicates that 80% of UK consumers are likely to continue shopping online, whilst 74% said they felt most comfortable with eCommerce shopping and just less than half of those asked, 41%, would feel comfortable shopping in stores again. To ensure eCommerce success in the post-pandemic future, retailers should be thinking about how they can combine their physical and digital channels to create the most beneficial omnichannel experiences for their customers.

Huboo are an award-winning outsourced fulfilment provider based in the UK and mainland Europe, you can view their services here.

We’ll see you in Q2!