Retailers Nail Shipping For Holiday Success

by , Dec 24, 2013, 1:14 AM
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Zappos, Barneys New York and Net-A-Porter are among the top companies for holiday shipping, according to a study conducted by Kurt Salmon.

The three companies promised shipping in one day (Zappos) and three days (Barneys New York and Net-A-Porter) respectively. Rounding out the top were Costco (3.3 days) and Neiman Marcus (4.4 days.)

Kurt Salmon tracked data on multi-unit order fulfillment and shipping times. The study analyzed shipping times for orders placed on Cyber Monday from over 50 retailers across a broad range of categories, including traditional big boxes, specialty retailers and online-only e-tailers.

Retailers in the top five delivered multi-unit orders in the shortest time frame, an average of 2.9 days. This was less than half the average fulfillment time of 6.2 days achieved by retailers in the analysis. Premium brands, in particular, excelled in speed of delivery during peak times. In comparison to Cyber Monday, off-peak average fulfillment time was quicker, coming in at 5.3 days.

“The slower fulfillment time for Cyber Monday orders in the overall study indicates that many retailers forecasted less demand, perhaps due to slow economic growth,” said Michelle Bogan, partner in Kurt Salmon’s retail and consumer products group, in a release. “But e-commerce continues to boom as free shipping and guaranteed product availability increase the convenience factor. Retailers at the top of their game for fulfillment will adjust forecasts, retrain or increase staff in distribution centers and be better prepared for later peak order times.”

Most retailers (70% percent) in the study offered free shipping with Cyber Monday orders, a feature that has become ubiquitous to compete effectively and avoid shopping cart abandonment. While many retailers tout free shipping for a limited time, or once orders reach a certain price threshold.

During peak season, the top fulfillment retailers remain focused on quality in addition to speed. Orders from Neiman Marcus, for example, are wrapped in tissue paper, and Zappos orders come with a handwritten “thank you” regardless of the season.

“When looking at online shipping data, it’s obvious that retailers are pushing an omnichannel strategy—and for good reason,” Bogan says. “A clear pattern is emerging where consumers are still heading to the stores over Thanksgiving weekend for the experience and deals, but are increasingly supplementing or finishing their shopping online and on mobile devices. It’s more important than ever that brands offer a seamless experience across all channels to hold shoppers’ attention and complete the transaction.”

"Packages wrap with brown paper" photo from Shutterstock.

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