Demand for courier services has indeed soared due to the lockdown, overwhelming the companies in the sector, but the delivery delays have deeper causes and cannot be explained by seasonal factors or last month’s Black Friday sales, according to sources in the industry.
These sources know the sector in depth and are fully aware of the situation in the rest of Europe, and identify four main causes for the problems facing both those sending packages and the recipients of online orders.
The primary reason for the courier gridlock in Greece (with a few exceptions) is that local companies have not made any serious investments in the necessary infrastructure – mainly the distribution centers where parcels are sent for delivery. The investments that have been planned, such as auto sort systems to accelerate package handling, are still in the implementation stage and cannot help the situation today.
Another factor is that Greek courier enterprises are a significant distance behind their European counterparts in terms of implementing high-tech investments, the same sources say. Therefore, even if a company from which a customer has bought a product has the ultramodern infrastructure for locating, packaging and sending the commodity, the slowness of the courier company will still delay the whole process. “The chain is as strong as its weakest link,” the industry experts poignantly say.
Thirdly, there is a remarkable lack of storage space across most of the market, so that even in normal conditions, as there were before the pandemic, there are delays: “Most people are aware that orders from e-stores abroad reach Greece in two or three working days, while such time frames are in the realm of science fiction for deliveries within Greece,” a source comments.
The fourth and most obvious factor is that while the daily average level of courier package orders ranges around 200,000 in Greece, since the start of the second lockdown the figure has jumped to 800,000, with the latest estimates now pointing to 1 million orders per day.
Consequently, delivery times in Greece are often extended two or three times, while sector entrepreneurs wonder whether this demand will be sustained post-pandemic.