What will Christmas on Sunday mean for last-minute deliveries?

Discussion
Source: Fedex
Nov 08, 2016

The last-minute holiday rush is always a hectic time. And this year, with Christmas falling on a Sunday, retailers face extra challenges.

Speaking at a press event Monday at the offices of PR firm, Berns Communications Group, Kevon Hills, SVP, operations and insights at StellaService, described retailers he’s spoken to as “nervous” about meeting guaranteed Christmas delivery dates for last-minute online orders.

Back-office support staff at stores will have to be incentivized to work over the weekend to handle those last-minute online orders. Both of the major delivery service providers also need to ramp up weekend drivers to handle the surge in Christmas Eve and possibly Christmas deliveries. UPS and FedEx generally offer special delivery on Saturday, but don’t deliver on Sunday.

Mr. Hills said it is generally an “all hands on deck” time for stores and delivery service providers, but a missed Christmas delivery is a customer-service embarrassment.

“It’s always a delicate balance,” Mr. Hills said. “You want to squeeze as much juice as you can out of the holiday season without having the wheels fall off the bus.”

Stores may decide to adopt less-aggressive Christmas shipment deadlines. Consumers may see retailers raising the rates for expedited shipping if a greater need for overnight shipping or other steps are required.

Retailers may hold a shipment at the store for Christmas Eve rather than risk botching a last-minute shipment, although BOPIS execution faces its own challenges during busy store times.

UPS has said that since Christmas falls on Sunday, it will be advancing pickups and processing through the weekend prior to its peak delivery day — scheduled for Monday, Dec. 19 — to ensure timely deliveries.

FedEx Express will be delivering on Saturday (Christmas Eve), but it is not a service day for FedEx Ground. FedEx locations are being offered for as a delivery option for customers on Christmas Eve.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: With the holiday falling on a Sunday, would stores be wise to become more conservative this year on their Christmas delivery deadlines? What obvious and less obvious risks does Christmas on Sunday create for retailers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"It would be wise for retailers to adopt a more conservative approach to holiday delivery, but many won’t for fear of losing customers to competitors."
"Retailers will do better if they under-promise and over-deliver."
"Sunday is just another retail day of the holiday season. Last-minute deliveries will continue and everyone will move forward with their Christmas Day."

Join the Discussion!

10 Comments on "What will Christmas on Sunday mean for last-minute deliveries?"


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Max Goldberg
Guest

It would be wise for retailers to adopt a more conservative approach to holiday delivery, but many won’t for fear of losing customers to competitors who take a more liberal approach.

Lee Kent
Guest

The bottom line is that retailers must be realistic about delivery deadlines. If service providers typically don’t deliver on Christmas Eve then that needs to be factored in. We have now been through a few holidays with ramped-up home deliveries, enough to have learned a good bit about what it takes. The important thing is to set expectation and to be tightly aligned with delivery partners.

Frankly, and I risk getting dinged for saying this, I am not sure why Christmas on Sunday really matters. Whatever day it falls on, most stores and service providers are closed and that means the schedule and delivery dates must take that into consideration.

But that’s just my 2 cents.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

For the past few years we’ve seen retailers making some pretty audacious promises about how late they can deliver packages, sometimes with very disappointing results. Come on, people; everyone knows what date Christmas is. Max is right — retailers will do better if they under-promise and over-deliver.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff
Patricia Vekich Waldron
Contributing Editor, RetailWire; Founder and CEO, Vision First
5 years 6 months ago

Right on Cathy and Max! It is always better to be pleasantly surprised than to have your hopes dashed.

Tom Redd
Guest

Stores and websites should lock deliveries down and make their last one on Saturday. Christmas Eve is not Christmas and Santa says no gift opening until Christmas morning after 8 a.m. (your time zone). That’s what he says so it’s a rule in my living room.

Deliveries on Christmas are tacky. Make offers for the day after xmas and send a card in an empty box before xmas that says your special special gift got held up due to some elves taking their time. Get creative and use a day before xmas special elf delivery.

Do not be tacky — it is Christmas.

Nikki Baird
BrainTrust
Nikki Baird
VP of Strategy, Aptos
5 years 6 months ago

I don’t remember any egregious misses last holiday season on the shipment front, certainly not like in 2014. I would attribute that to better communication between retailers and shippers. Retailers can no longer treat parcel delivery as an infinite capacity resource, but if they can give relatively accurate estimates of what they will need and do it with enough advance notice then everyone can win — retailers, shippers, and customers. But I agree with Lee — it’s going to be an issue no matter what day of the year the holiday falls on.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest

If plans are not yet in place, retailers need to define the service-level objectives and execute the plan immediately. Any further delays will increase COGS and reduce margins and potentially service levels.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Sunday is just another retail day of the holiday season. Last-minute deliveries will continue and everyone will move forward with their Christmas Day just like a Saturday or Friday or any other day. Christmas is still a holiday.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest

Here’s hoping more customers are aware that they need to order in time for a realistic delivery. But there are always those who “forget” or delay. Let’s also hope the retailers become more conservative when making delivery commitments. Retailers will make delivery promises often based on the commitment the delivery company gives them. And it is always the delivery driver who will miss out on part of the holiday because of it.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Wow! This has never happened before…Xmas on a Sunday. Oh, wait….

Yes, it will cause complications, and yes there will be foolish and/or forgetful people who will wait until the last minute, end up disappointed and whine about it endlessly on Twitter — while it’s still around — or some other site. Live with it.

Harried retailers will be compensated by most people having the day after off, who will be able to go shopping.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"It would be wise for retailers to adopt a more conservative approach to holiday delivery, but many won’t for fear of losing customers to competitors."
"Retailers will do better if they under-promise and over-deliver."
"Sunday is just another retail day of the holiday season. Last-minute deliveries will continue and everyone will move forward with their Christmas Day."

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