Which Retailers Are Naughty or Nice?

With less than three online shopping days to Christmas, consumers are going to have to pay more to ensure that presents are delivered on time for the big day.

"Shoppers cannot rely on the standard delivery option; they are going to have to pay for a premium or next day service to have the best chance of getting their presents delivered in time for Christmas Day," says Judy Blackburn, director of retail consultants Kurt Salmon, which surveyed 50 UK retailers on their performance on orders placed on Black Friday, measuring shipping speed, customer notifications, accuracy and cost.

On Santa's Nice List are retailers such as Amazon, Next, Net-a-Porter, Coach and Gap.

Analysis of the survey data revealed it took an average of five days for orders to be delivered. Retailers who delivered fastest averaged 2.8 days, nearly twice as fast as the average. Those outside of the top performers took 10 days or more – more than double the average delivery time. On orders placed on Black Friday, only Next and Amazon delivered the next day (Saturday) and just 30 percent of retailers dropped off the parcels the following Monday.

"The best present that retailers can give is meeting customer expectations; speed is not everything. Shoppers would much prefer to have their orders delivered on time, even if it is going to take longer, rather than be let down by retailers who make promises that can't be kept," says Blackburn. "With 14 percent of retailers not even confirming a delivery date at the point of ordering, thousands of customers are being left in the dark wondering as to when their delivery might arrive."

Blackburn adds that retailers should not have been caught out by the level of sales on Black Friday 2015. "Analysts had been predicting sales of more than £1bn for months and they were in line with this prediction, just slightly higher. It is too late for retailers to improve their performance this year, but if they want a very merry, prosperous and profitable 2016, they are going to have to take a much closer look at their delivery and returns options and their costs, otherwise they will not be celebrating in 12 months' time."

Key findings from the survey:

Free shipping and returns but at what cost to the retailer?
  • A whopping 80 percent of retailers offered free standard delivery which is good news for shoppers
  • 84 percent of retailers offered click and collect in store, reserve in store or Collect+ options providing more opportunities to get orders quickly and often free
  • With the retailer typically paying the courier per delivered package, it was surprising to see only 62 percent of orders were delivered together. The remaining orders had an average of 2.8 packages
  • 89 percent of retailers with stores offered in store returns and 68 percent provided free returns for customers unable to return items to store. Post and Collect+ are the most common return options (54 percent) with 14 percent offering free courier pick up
  • The impact of massive discounting during Black Friday, linked with less revenue from delivery charges and cost of returns means that retailers are facing higher-than-ever profitability challenges
  • As consumer preference towards online shopping continues to grow and they require more and more delivery options, retailers need to understand the true cost of servicing their online customer to figure out how to maximise profits
All consumers want for Christmas is to receive all their orders on time
  • Based on the Kurt Salmon Black Friday survey, some retailers have opportunities to improve the customer experience. Challenges in delivering as promised were impacted by inventory availability, packing quality and courier delays
  • 3 percent of items ordered were cancelled or not delivered
  • 26 percent of full or part orders were delivered later than the email order confirmation - some as a result of the parcel getting lost at the courier for more than a week.
"The difference between the Nice and 'Naughty' retailers is their ability not only to deliver on time to the address requested with all items required, but also their ability to communicate order status, ship in fewer packages, deliver at low cost, or for free, and the ease of returns," confirms Blackburn.

Taking all this into account, the Top 10 on the Kurt Salmon Santa's Nice List for 2015 are:
  • Amazon
  • Next
  • Net-a-Porter
  • Coach
  • GAP
  • White Stuff
  • Monsoon
  • Topshop
  • Clarks
  • John Lewis
"There are some big names missing, who will need to work harder to get onto the Kurt Salmon Santa's Nice List next year," concludes Blackburn.
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