Nearly one in three British online Christmas shoppers experienced problems with their orders this Christmas, according to research conducted on behalf of JDA.
The survey revealed that of those shoppers encountering problems, 49 percent had suffered from missed deliveries, while a further 45 percent had experienced late deliveries or never received their goods.
These figures highlight that during the critical Christmas shopping period especially, many retailers fail to meet online customers’ expectations; an issue that has escalated dramatically compared to a year earlier where only one in five consumers experienced problems over a 12 month period.
More than a third of Christmas shoppers opted to use ‘Click & Collect' services, with those that did citing avoiding delivery charges and greater convenience as their biggest motivations.
In fact, of those shoppers who used ‘Click & Collect’ services this Christmas, just over a third stated that they would use them more when Christmas shopping next year. Interestingly, a quarter of online Christmas shoppers stated they chose to shop specifically with a retailer that offered ‘Click & Click' over one that solely offered home delivery.
“Christmas 2014 was undoubtedly the year that online shoppers saw ‘Click & Collect’ as a viable alternative to home delivery,” said Jason Shorrock, retail strategy director at JDA. “Shoppers want greater flexibility as to how and when they receive their online goods. But at the same time it is clear that home delivery reliability around the Christmas period remains something of a lottery.
“With growing numbers of consumers opting to shop with retailers that offer the option of ‘Click & Collect’, those that can ensure order fulfillment excellence will be ultimate winners. Indeed, our research shows that nearly one in five online shoppers surveyed used an alternative retailer this Christmas as a result of their preferred one not having items available or having delivery times that met their requirements.”
The research revealed that 40 percent of ‘Click & Collect’ Christmas shoppers had a very positive experience of using such services over Christmas; however it also highlighted a number of areas where there was still room for improvement.
More than a third encountered issues that potentially had a negative impact on their shopping experience. Of those that selected the issues listed, 30 percent had experienced long waiting times due to a lack of in-store staff, 29 percent cited a lack of a dedicated area in-store for ‘Click & Collect' purchases, and 25 percent said staff were unable to / took a long time to source goods in-store.
Looking more broadly at shopping at Christmas, the research highlighted that nearly a half of Brits did at least half of their shopping online; of those who did Christmas shopping, 18 percent stated that they did more Christmas shopping online than they originally planned.
The research also revealed that many shoppers ended up ordering items earlier than planned as a result of retailers setting ordering deadlines a week or more in advance of Christmas Day. In fact, 17 percent of shoppers stated that ordering deadlines had made them shop at a store instead of online.
Despite some retailers offering premium delivery services that would enable consumers to order goods as late as 23 December (and still guarantee pre-Christmas delivery), only eight percent of shoppers said they had used them.
“The growth of online retail in the UK shows no sign of slowing down. At the same time, customers' service expectations are greater than ever, meaning they will simply shop elsewhere if retailers fail to meet them,” Shorrock concludes. “This in turn is placing greater strain on retailers’ supply chain capabilities, especially over the Christmas period when demand is at its highest.
“Retail phenomena such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have only further increased consumer demand, yet retailers still struggle to cope effectively with its implications. The Christmas shopping experience can often dictate a person's shopping habits for the next 12 months and beyond.
“At a time when margins remain squeezed, retailers need to ensure they are delivering a great experience both online and in store. Those that don’t will not have much to celebrate next Christmas.”