Not all e-commerce companies stuck to their Christmas delivery schedules

December 30, 2013

Not all e-commerce companies were able to fulfill the large number of orders placed at their point of sale terminals during the holiday season.

Not all e-commerce companies were able to fulfill the large number of orders placed at their point of sale terminals during the holiday season. That’s bad news for a select group of customers, but a heartening development for individuals hoping the revenue accrued by online retailers will beat expectations this winter. 

Internet Retailer recently reported that StellaService, a customer service measurement firm, conducted an experiment to see how many online retailers were able to fulfill the entirety of the orders placed at their online credit card payment processing stations in the last days before Christmas. The firm placed three separate orders with each of the top 25 online retailers in North America on the day before their “cutoff dates” for pre-Christmas delivery. More than 30 percent of those retailers failed to deliver at least one of the three orders prior to the holiday.  

Ty McMahan, the director of content at StellaService, told the Dallas News that this development could have a major impact on e-commerce retailers, as consumers realize the products purchased online cannot always meet their guaranteed delivery dates. 

“This holiday season, with more people shopping online, we stress-tested logistics and realized there are areas to improve,” McMahan told the news outlet. “I don’t think people will shop less online, but guarantee isn’t a word to be taken lightly.”

Delays due to bad weather, United Parcel Service, other factors
Analysts told Internet Retailer that a number of factors likely contributed to the e-commerce outlets collective failure to deliver their packages, including bad weather, unexpectedly high order volumes and the trouble experienced by United Parcel Service, who had already reported being backlogged in their holiday deliveries. StellaService reported that all but one of the 75 orders placed were shipped through UPS. 

Failure to delivery packages can lead to a rash of customer goodwill, which itself can lead to a decrease in the number of orders placed at a payment processing page. Internet Retailer, for example, previously reported that a large majority of comments placed on Kohl’s Facebook page in the past few days were in regards to a failure to deliver orders placed prior to their Christmas cutoff date

Niraj Shah, CEO of e-commerce company Wayfair, told Internet Retailer that Wayfair used staggered cutoff dates and other strategies to help ensure they’d fulfill each delivery, offering a potential insight to other online retailers. 

“Overnight delivery is prohibitively expensive given the cube size. That’s probably the biggest reason we didn’t have any problems,” Shah told Internet Retailer. “For us items had various cutoffs. The main one was last Friday, although we did have some items ordered as late as Monday for Christmas.”

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