How should retailers prepare for holiday shortfalls?
A survey taken in November finds 77 percent of U.S. consumers worried that they will face issues buying gifts online this year. The top concerns include gifts not arriving on time (cited by 45 percent), being more expensive (42 percent) and being unavailable (33 percent).
The concerns expressed in the survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers from messenger software provider Intercom come with heightened expectations, including 94 percent wanting retailers to let them know of delays without having to ask about them. Seventy-nine want alerts about delays and backorders before they check out or make a purchase.
An accompanying survey of 500 customer service reps, however, finds 38 percent believing their company is not doing enough to set expectations on item availability and delivery times.
The survey results arrive amid widespread media reports of supply chain disruptions while consumers encounter bare shelves and rising prices.
Ultimately, it will be front-facing employees in stores and at customer service centers feeling the brunt of holiday shortfalls.
The Intercom survey found customer service inquiries increasing due to heightened concerns over delivery delays and product availability. Among the customer service rep respondents, 60 percent believe it is harder than ever to fully resolve customer issues and 52 percent are considering leaving their jobs due to the stress.
Among other related surveys:
- Convey by project44’s fifth annual holiday survey found consumers’ top concerns this year are out of stock items (50 percent), shipping delays (46 percent), higher prices (46 percent) and higher shipping costs (41 percent). Sixty-two percent wanted the ability to track packages en route, 98 percent wanted retailers to notify them if their delivery will be late and 67 percent vowed not to shop with a brand again after a poor delivery experience.
- The “14th Annual Global Shopper Study” by Zebra Technologies found that only 38 percent of shoppers completely trust retailers to fulfill online orders as promised and that 51 percent of retailer associates completely trust their company to fulfill online orders.
- An Oracle survey taken in September found supply chain disruptions leaving consumers frustrated (61 percent), impatient (46 percent), anxious (45 percent) and angry (34 percent).
- New Study: Supply Chain Woes Worry Holiday Shoppers, Stress Customer Service Teams – Intercom/PRNewswire
- Consumers Already Holiday Shopping to Avoid the Supply Chain Grinch – Oracle
- Consumers Concerned About Out of Stock Items and Shipping Delays — But They’re Not Changing Their Behavior – Convey by p44/Business Wire
- Majority of Americans Slow to Start Holiday Shopping Despite Widespread Product Availability and Shipping Concerns – Cordial/PRNewswire
- 14th Annual Zebra Global Shopper Study – Zebra Technologies
- Survey: 82 percent of Americans Scared That Supply Chain Issues Will Ruin Their Life Plans – Oracle
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What should retailers be doing now in anticipation of potential out-of-stocks, late deliveries and other holiday shortfalls emanating from supply chain disruptions? What strategies or messages would you have for customer service teams and in-store workers facing shopper angst and anger?