Everyone’s been keeping a close eye on the ecommerce explosion brought about by COVID-19. One part of the story that hasn’t got a lot of attention is the impact it’s had on ‘out of home’ delivery. In fact, methods like lockers, PUDOs and in-store pickup have followed an interesting trajectory over the past year. And, if you ask us, things are only going to get more interesting as the world emerges from lockdown. We’re predicting ‘out of home’ is the delivery method to watch in the future. Here’s why.

Decline of out of home delivery during COVID-19… sort of

At first glance, the data suggests that out of home delivery fell during lockdown. It makes sense – during this time we were stuck at home, and accepting online deliveries was one of the few things we were actually able to do. While many ‘out of home’ collection points like PUDOs were deemed essential retail and allowed to stay open, there was also a conscious effort from consumers to reduce trips to stores where possible. In other words, home delivery made sense.

And yet, other forms of ‘out of home’ collection – like lockers – actually grew. For example, one carrier partner Metapack works with recently experienced a 2% rise in the use of their lockers. They attribute this to the fact that many of their lockers are located outside, which made them safer to use during the pandemic. Also, many are situated at supermarkets or petrol stations, which remained open and well-frequented during lockdowns.

The same nuances are true for formats like ‘click and collect’. While in general this method declined, as retail stores were forced to close, in-store pickup in essential retail locations remained relatively stable. For example, one Metapack customer maintained near-2019 usage of ‘click and collect’ in grocery stores throughout 2020.

Delivery expands outside the home

It will come as no surprise that home delivery has remained the most popular mode of delivery during lockdown. In the UK between March to June 2020, we saw a 60% increase in home deliveries. And there were some unexpected upshots, too. For example, our data shows that missed deliveries in the UK have dramatically declined as more people have been at home to accept their orders. Between January 2020 and May 2021, missed deliveries dropped 43%.

The trajectory of home delivery during lockdown is interesting, but it’s what happens afterwards that matters most. As the world inches closer to a post-COVID reality, many consumers are resuming their old habits: going back to the office, taking the kids to school, meeting friends for lunch. This means more time away from home, and a greater likelihood of missed home deliveries.

Most of the ecommerce growth experienced during the pandemic is likely to stay. In our Ecommerce Delivery Benchmark Report, 42% of consumers said that even after COVID-19 they will continue shopping more online. But as life goes back to normal, consumers will be drawn to delivery methods that complement their life outside the home. For example, customers who get their orders delivered to lockers don’t need to worry about missing their delivery when they get called into the office. They can just stop by the locker box at the supermarket on their way home.

As consumers solidify their online shopping habits, they will soon become aware of “hacks” such as these, and delivery methods like lockers, PUDOs and in-store pickup will start to gain ground on more traditional methods like home delivery.

An appetite for sustainable delivery

Another reason why we’re predicting a rise in ‘out of home’ is because it’s more sustainable. As ‘out of home’ delivery presents an opportunity to bundle multiple orders, the last mile of delivery can be significantly reduced – as can its CO2 footprint.

And reducing the environmental impact of online shopping is increasingly important for consumers. It used to be that cost and speed were the primary factors when weighing up delivery options – and rest assured these are still the main drivers – but sustainability is starting to give them a run for their money. According to the same report, 32% of consumers value sustainable delivery more than cost and speed. A further 47% is willing to wait longer for sustainable delivery. Promoting ‘out of home’ delivery as a sustainable option is an underutilized opportunity.

‘Out of home’ delivery has for a long time played second fiddle to traditional delivery methods like home delivery. However, as a savvier generation of online shoppers emerges from lockdown, we’re betting things will change. If you ask us, ‘out of home’ delivery will be the method to watch in 2021 and beyond.

Are you offering enough ‘out of home’ delivery options? Find out how easy it is to start using Metapack’s sustainable delivery options here.