Has retail figured out last-minute holiday fulfillment?
Retailers scored high marks this season meeting guaranteed shipping dates, according to the 2018 Holiday Shipping study from Kurt Salmon.
Similar to past years, the consultancy placed orders with 52 U.S. retailers across categories to measure fulfillment rates on their last guaranteed shipping date for standard delivery before Christmas. A commendable 93 percent of orders were processed and delivered on time. That’s down from a perfect score in 2017, although retailers cautiously pulled back their average cut-off dates this year to hit their promises. The rate was 92 percent in 2016 and 88 percent in 2015.
The best retailers this year for standard-shipping orders placed on or after Dec. 20 but arriving before Christmas, were:
- Amazon Prime: ordered on Dec. 22
- Under Armour, Lululemon, MM.LaFleur, Coach, L.L.Bean, Nordstrom and Zappos: ordered on Dec. 21
- Dillard’s, Macy’s, Timberland, Sephora, Saks Fifth Avenue and Best Buy: ordered on Dec. 20
The average cut-off date was Dec. 17, but all retailers that missed their deadlines used a cut-off deadline of Dec. 19 or a later.
At the same time, one third of retailers opted out of having a “last order promise date” as Christmas approached to avoid disappointing customers, the highest percentage seen in the survey compared to previous years.
Instead, many retailers pushed BOPIS capabilities and in-store specials to drive last-minute sales and reduce risk. Many retailers, including Kohl’s, Best Buy, Home Depot and Lowe’s, had BOPIS options available late on Christmas Eve. Adobe found that BOPIS use over the holiday season was up 47 percent.
According to Kurt Salmon, Building appropriate capacity, implementing alternative fulfillment methods such as ship from store and BOPIS, and having the right order routing capabilities were keys to last-minute execution.
As online order volume continues to grow, consumer expectations for perfect service will no doubt as well. Kurt Salmon also found 54 percent of U.S. consumers now expect holiday orders — with free shipping — to arrive in just 3 days. In a statement, Steve Osburn, managing director at Kurt Salmon, said, “With the majority taking much longer to deliver — around 6 days — retailers have got a long way to go to meet this expectation.”
- Amazon, Under Armour, Lululemon among 93% of retailers that kept Christmas shipping promises – USA Today
- There’s never been this kind of surge in last-minute shoppers picking up online orders – CNBC
- Study: Retailers delivered on their holiday shipping promises – Chain Store Age
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Where do you still see the pain points in last-minute holiday delivery execution? Are newer alternative fulfillment methods, such as ship-from-store and BOPIS, significantly helping? Is three-day, free shipping a viable goal for retailers?