Chronopost launches Sunday deliveries across France
Express operator Chronopost has launched a home delivery service on Sundays which is the first of its kind in France and rare in most of Europe but has been heavily criticised by French unions.
Deliveries are normally made on five or six days a week in most European countries due to legal and contractual restrictions on working times. However, Sunday deliveries have become more common in the UK in the last few years.
Chronopost, which is part of La Poste’s European parcels network DPDgroup, said the service will "revolutionise the consumption habits of e-shoppers by offering them one more delivery day” adding that e-retailers and the general public expected it as delivery remains a decisive element of online shopping.
According to a Chronopost survey conducted in January 2017, 92.6% of the shoppers placing an order online on Friday would like to have a choice between a Saturday or Sunday delivery. The finding was confirmed by a Sunday delivery pilot that Chronopost started a year ago in cooperation with major French online retailer Cdiscount in the Paris region.
As part of the new service, Chronopost will deliver online orders to customers’ doorsteps on Sundays between 9am and 1pm. In the initial phase, this option will be available in Paris and its metropolitan area (departments 77, 78, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95) and in the following 14 cities: Nice, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Rennes, Grenoble, Nantes, Reims, Lille, Strasbourg, Lyon, Toulon et Aix-en-Provence. It is planned to further extend the geographical coverage of Sunday deliveries from 2018 onwards.
For about a year, Chronopost has been testing Sunday deliveries with Cdiscount as its first customer. Cdiscount has committed itself to offer its customers a competitive delivery service with a choice of innovative and tailor-made solutions and has been exclusively testing Sunday deliveries with customers in Paris and the Hauts-de-Seine department.
“Delivery is a key element of our competitiveness and customer's promise. That's why we continue to invest to offer them more choices and flexibility,” said Emmanuel Grenier, CEO of Cdiscount.
Cdiscount.com is part of the Casino Group which operates various supermarket chains across France and abroad. As a leading non-food retailer in France, the website generated revenues of nearly €3 billion in 2016, including its marketplace which is growing steadily with more than 9,000 partner retailers.
The Sunday delivery service is in line with Chronopost’s latest innovations. Since 2015, the express company has deployed different solutions reducing the delivery time slots for customers. This include delivery by appointment which offers a two-hour time slot from 8am to 10pm via the “Chrono Precise” service and same-day delivery in the evening between 7-10pm via “Chrono Sameday”. Chronopost also provides the “Predict 1h” service featuring one-hour delivery and including the geolocation of the parcel in real time and the possibility to re-schedule the date or the place of delivery.
In response to the new service, the French unions denounced "the unilateral" decision of the La Poste Group and the massive use of subcontractors with "precarious jobs". “By questioning the principle of resting on Sunday, this project, if implemented, would represent a profound upheaval for the company and for its employees as well as for labour organisations, service quality and the distribution of working days in the week,” the CGT union said.
"Instead of imposing Sunday work, the La Poste Group and the companies it comprises should rather ensure quality parcel distribution on a daily basis from Monday to Saturday at affordable prices anywhere in France, in order to meet the expectations of the population,” CGT added.
For the union, this involves “creating stable and qualified jobs and transforming all precarious jobs into full-time contracts".
The SUD PTT union, for its part, said in a statement: “In addition to deliveries on Sunday, which our union condemns, we regularly denounce the subcontracting of activities because of its precariousness and low wages in a business that is growing strongly.”
According to the union, Chronopost is one of the "flourishing subsidiaries" of La Poste with revenues of €995 million in 2016 which equals 30% growth since 2013. Chronopost employs 3,700 staff and distributed over 149 million parcels in 2016.
“This model mainly relies on the heavy deployment of an external workforce. Chronopost deploys at least 3,000 precarious full-time equivalents to carry out handling, transport and especially distribution activities with the subcontracting rate exceeding 98%.”
But La Poste management stressed to the AFP agency that Sunday work has existed at Chronopost for 20 years exclusively on a voluntary basis and included a salary increase. “In 2016, this concerned nearly 300 employees. The development of e-commerce and the expectations of consumers now make it necessary to deploy delivery seven days a week in a highly competitive market.”
In the UK, Amazon launched deliveries on a Sunday for members of its Amazon Prime scheme in seven cities in early 2014, provided via Amazon Logistics, in cooperation with regional delivery partners including Yodel. In the same year, Hermes, DPD and Royal Mail announced plans to start Sunday deliveries.