Retailers Move Up Shipping Dates to Avoid a Repeat of Last Year's Problems
Still scarred from last year's shipping disasters — customers not receiving their orders (i.e., gifts) before Christmas despite being guaranteed they would at the time of purchase — online retailers are taking a more cautious approach to holiday shipments this year. Staples, Macy's, Gap, Pottery Barn, Kohl's and Nordstrom were just some of the brands that broke their Christmas delivery promises last year when carriers UPS and FedEx were overwhelmed with last-minute orders. It seems retailers have learned their lesson and are preparing to avoid a repeat of last year.
According to Shop.org's eHoliday survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, 78.8 percent of retailers surveyed said they will set their standard shipping deadlines for guaranteed Christmas delivery to expire at least a week before the big day, compared to 73.7 percent who said so last holiday season. Furthermore, 21.2 percent will set those deadlines to expire Dec. 19 or later, compared to 26.3 percent who said so last year.
"It's important to remember that the 2013 holiday season was impacted by a multitude of factors that affected the supply chain in the days leading up to Christmas, including bad weather and a shortened holiday calendar," said Shop.org Executive Director and NRF Senior Vice President Vicki Cantrell, in a company press release. "That said, retailers and their delivery partners this year are proactively planning to make sure they meet customer expectations for delivery and customer service. In addition, many companies have ramped up their online promotions earlier to entice customers to start shopping earlier in the season."
For example, Kmart launched its first commercial promoting its layaway program for the holiday shopping season in the first week of September — when it was still officially summer! At least the brand had some fun with it. According to ChannelAdvisor's Multichannel E-Commerce Study of more than 200 U.S. and U.K. online retailers, 42 percent of respondents said they planned to begin their holiday promotion push in September, and another 20 percent planned to begin their promotions in August or sooner.