Consumer research carried out by independent UK carrier Yodel, which handles around 155 million parcels a year on behalf of the UK’s top retailers, shows that nearly four times the number of shoppers are planning to place an order online this Black Friday (27 November), compared to last year.

While only eight per cent of the shoppers surveyed placed an online order on Black Friday 2014, 30 per cent said that they will participate in the internet promotions this year.

6,371 people were surveyed by eDigitalResearch, between 16 and 22 June. The research forms part of an ongoing survey called ‘Have Your Say’ that reaches 4,000 Yodel customers every day. The bespoke survey is unique to Yodel and since its launch has garnered over 1.5 million responses.

With planning for the Christmas peak already underway across the retail and supply chain industries, the findings highlight the need for retailers, fulfilment houses and parcel carriers to work together so they can respond to uplift in demand over the cyber weekend.

With a finite next day delivery capacity in the parcel industry, a simple and cost effective solution may be that more than three quarters (76 per cent) of the shoppers surveyed said that they are happy to wait a little longer for orders placed on Back Friday, as long as they’re kept informed about progress. In fact over a quarter (27 per cent) of respondents said they would be happy if their order took an extra three days during seasonal sales and 28 per cent would wait an extra two days. Just a fifth (21 per cent) would only wait one day extra and only 13 per cent said they wouldn’t be prepared to wait at all.

Spreading deliveries at this time would automatically smooth the dramatic peak in parcels and create more capacity.

For those customers who just can’t wait, approaching half (44 per cent) said they would be willing to pay more for next-day delivery for orders placed on Black Friday.

The findings come as Yodel continues its preparations for the 2015 peak period. The carrier has spent the first half of this year optimising its network to cope with such uplifts in demand, including four new strategically placed ‘super’ service centres, with more planned to open by the end of the year. It has also made significant investment in IT, mechanical handling, sorting equipment, training and fleet to improve efficiency and capacity.

Yodel has also used its ongoing survey to understand customers’ feedback in real-time, identify and address issues, praise good performance and develop innovations for the future that will improve and enhance the consumer experience.

Commenting on the findings, Yodel’s executive chairman, Dick Stead, said: “2014 was the year that online Christmas shopping in the UK changed forever, with retail websites crashing, warehouses straining and the majority of carriers struggling to cope with unforecast volumes. Our research shows that 2015 is set to break the mould once again, with nearly four times as many people planning to take advantage of the Black Friday online promotions.

“Yodel has already made significant investment to cope with the increased demand. While this has created additional capacity and efficiency, it does not change the fact that there is finite next-day delivery capacity across the parcel industry.

“Therefore it’s reassuring that the majority of consumers are telling us that they are prepared to wait a little longer for their delivery during peak promotions. For them the chance to bag a bargain is more important than the speed it arrives, and this will automatically create extra capacity across the industry and enable us to keep prices at a level that retailers and their shoppers expect.”

The unique survey will also be used to help Yodel’s clients to plan and provide accurate forecasts, so that all parts of the end to end supply chain can resource appropriately.

“Since last Black Friday we’ve been listening even more intently to customers, and we’ll be sharing this insight and other data with our retail clients to enable them to provide us with accurate daily forecasts. This year we will be limiting our next day capacity and will only accept the parcel volumes agreed with our clients in order to protect service levels and ensure that shoppers have the best delivery experience possible,” continued Dick.

“Part of this joint partnership approach will require retailers to engage their marketing departments, and be responsible in only offering the next-day delivery capacity that has been agreed with their carriers.”

Further findings from the research show: