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Accenture study reveals retailers with fastest delivery times

Not all retailers were able to keep up with the record levels of consumer demand that came in on Cyber Monday.

The 2017 Holiday Shipping study from Kurt Salmon (part of Accenture Strategy), which tracked online orders placed with 104 retailers on Cyber Monday to measure shipping speed, order accuracy and delivery costs, found that online queues and overly optimistic shipping promises were among the biggest fails on the biggest online shopping day of the year.

The study found that customers were held in ‘online pens’ before they were able to browse and buy goods, similar to what many experience when purchasing concert or festival tickets. As online destinations reached their maximum customer threshold, queueing systems kicked in earlier than anticipated which impacted customer experience.

In addition, some retailers tried to lure customers by improving shipping to two days, which was a difficult promise to deliver on such a big shipping day. Some retailers that experienced issues ‘ghosted’ customers by leaving them in the dark and did not communicate when orders would arrive, according to Accenture.

The following retailers and brands pulled out all the stops to ensure customers received their orders quickly and accurately on Cyber Monday, according to Accenture, delivering on average in 2.6 days, compared to 3.5 days in 2016:

• Department Stores: Barneys New York, Dillard’s, Nordstrom

• E-tailers: Net-a-Porter, Zappos, Amazon (Prime)

• Discount/Variety: Dollar General, T J Maxx, Target
• Fashion apparel: Vans, Michael Kors, Zara

• Luxury apparel: Kate Spade, Burberry, Hugo Boss

• Home and hardgoods: Lowe’s, Home Depot, Harbor Freight Tools

• Specialty footwear: Timberland, Aquatalia, Toms

• Sporting goods: The North Face, Lucy, REI

The study also found that that 97% of retailers offered free shipping options, compared to 90% in 2016. But 27% relaxed their delivery promises on the actual day though.

"While many outperformed 2016 average shipping speeds, deliveries overall were slower compared to previous years," said Steve Osburn, managing director at Kurt Salmon, part of Accenture Strategy. "Some retailers were very conscious not to over promise. Many removed expected delivery times from their customer communications and instead provided real-time tracking information, removing a layer of potential error and mitigating customer disappointment."

To make matters worse, Osburn added, thunderstorms in the south delayed many deliveries by at least a day.

"With online sales continuing to rise, retailers have to orchestrate their supply chains to ensure they are operationally efficient during this extremely challenging time of year," he said.
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