How SMEs can boost competitiveness with weekend deliveries

17 May 2024 4 min read

With online retail open 24/7, UK consumers love to shop around the clock. This instant route to purchase has raised expectations of fast, flexible delivery – including on weekends.

Offering this – either as standard or as an add-on option that consumers pay extra for – is essential in today’s ecommerce-driven world. It encourages initial and repeat purchases, building and deepening the customer relationship. A hefty 77% of shoppers report that fast delivery times make them feel more confident about shopping online1.

But when it comes to delivery, what matters more to shoppers – speed or flexibility? And how can smaller businesses compete with the mammoth delivery infrastructure of giants like Amazon?

The world's 5th biggest e-commerce market

As retailers know only too well, the UK was a nation of early-adopters when online shopping arrived. The good news is that the figures are still steadily rising. UK online sales generated the equivalent of $143 billion in 2023; that’s an impressive 2.42% of all global e-commerce2. By 2027, over 86% of UK households are expected to be shopping online3.

As such a mature market – the UK is the 5th biggest e-commerce market in the world2, despite possessing just the 20th largest population4 – consumers are increasingly expecting super-quick deliveries. Spearheaded by big retail companies like Amazon, next- day delivery is now widely available, and same-day delivery is no longer rare.

If it isn’t offered as standard, some shoppers expect fast delivery to be offered as an option they can pay more for, even at the weekend. Across Europe, over half (56%) of online consumers are prepared to pay extra for next-day delivery5. And 39% of shoppers would choose weekend delivery if available6. Combine the two elements and you’ve got a powerful sales tool.

But it's not just about speed…

According to Mintel, 58% of shoppers have used next-day delivery in the last 12 months7. And while only 21% of shoppers have used same-day delivery, 58% agree that cheaper same-day services would make them use them more often7. All of this evidence may lead you to assume consumers really only care about speed. But dig a little deeper, and a more nuanced picture emerges.

83% agree that next-day delivery is actually quick enough for most purchases; rising to 89% of Baby Boomers7, who would otherwise likely have more disposable income to spend on same-day than other demographics. Therefore, it would appear that speed isn’t the only priority. So what else is important? Choice.

23% of online shoppers would choose one retailer over another if it offered a wide range of delivery options7. In fact, a lack of delivery options is the number one reason people abandon online shopping carts – not just in the UK, but globally3.

Consumers need to be able to choose what they want, when they want it. It’s important to empower online shoppers to decide what works for their individual needs, and offer a variety of delivery methods – from click-and-collect, to time slot selection and delivery on specific days of the week – to boost their perception of convenience by fitting into their schedule.

A reason to panic? Far from it. This insight is actually the key to enabling Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to compete against the big players.

Boost your bsiness with fast, flexible delivery options

Make the decision to offer fast, all-week delivery options – including Sunday, plus next-day on a Saturday – and you’ll be presenting shoppers with an attractive package.

All the benefits of shopping with a smaller business – for example, more personal customer service, the chance to buy bespoke products or whatever it is that makes your brand special – plus the speedy, 7-day-a-week delivery services of an internet giant.

Offer your shoppers the options they need to find exactly what suits them best, and they’re less likely to go elsewhere for the sake of delivery. Which means even SMEs can now compete with companies like Amazon, and capitalise on the UK’s huge, ever- growing ecommerce market.

Our weekend delivery services

At Parcelforce we offer a range of fast delivery options, including next-day on a Saturday and an express sunday service.

Your customers want to shop online, and they love fast delivery 7 days a week. Choose the right delivery partner, and you’ll match – or even surpass – the competition.



1. Mintel Online Retailing Consumer Report 2022
2. 2023
3. Dec 2023
4. 2023
5. Oct 2023
6. IMRG Peak insights and opportunities report, 2024
7. Mintel Online Retailing Consumer Report 2023. Baby boomers are people born between 1955-1964.

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