Reuters reported that major U.S. retailers missed fewer Christmas deliveries this year, thanks to a year’s worth of investment and planning on the part of retailers and integrators to avoid the last-minute shipping problems of 2013.
In 2014, 7 percent of packages ordered online didn’t arrive by their promised delivery date compared to 12 percent in 2013, according to retail intelligence firm StellaServices. A survey by management consulting firm, Kurt Salmon, found that 13 percent of e-commerce orders did not arrive in time for Christmas, compared to 15 percent in 2013, somewhat of an improvement.
Last-minute online promotions and bad weather left more than 2 million express packages stranded in 2013. For 2014, retailers pushed back the cut-off date for guaranteed Christmas deliveries by one day, but improvements to logistics infrastructure, better weather and fewer last-minute bargains also helped.
Most retailers set a cut-off date for guaranteed on-time delivery between Dec. 19 and Dec. 20 in 2014. The four retailers with the most aggressive cut-off date of Dec. 23 – Apple, Dell, Nordstrom and Zappos, a unit of Amazon.com – all made their deadlines.
The better results also stemmed from the heavy investments by UPS and FedEx, the world’s two largest integrators. UPS spent $500 million to make sure 2013 wasn’t repeated. Both companies built new facilities, added more holiday staff and coordinated with retailers for clarity on estimates and deadlines.
Some retailers still fell short of their promises, reflecting the difficulty of accurately calculating holiday demand as e-commerce orders grow. Stella Service found that Best Buy, Costco Wholesale, Crate & Barrel, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, and Wayfair each had one late delivery of the 160 packages the service tracked. Staples and Toys ‘R Us each had two packages arrive late.