Online Retailers Improved Year-End Delivery, Study Finds

(Los Angeles Times/TNS) —

This time last year, the nation’s biggest online retailers were hit hard by delivery shortfalls that caused countless customers to receive their orders late.

But warmer weather allowed many of those retailers to bounce back this year-end shopping season, according to a study by StellaService, a market research firm.

Only 7 percent of orders placed by the firm did not reach their destinations on time — a marked improvement from last year, when 12 percent of orders were late.

“This year, we saw improved performance within retailers’ distribution centers. Retailers were turning around orders quickly,” said Kevon Hills, vice president of research at StellaService. “We found many retailers were fulfilling orders in the same day they were received.”

StellaService placed 160 orders across the U.S. from 40 top retailers, including Apple, Toys R Us and Crate & Barrel.

Orders were placed during a retailer’s advertised cutoff date for arrival by Dec. 25. If no cutoff date was advertised, StellaService calculated a date based on standard-shipping and fee-expedited shipping times.

Best Buy, Costco, Crate & Barrel, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Staples, Toys R Us and Wayfair missed at least one delivery, according to the study.

Apple, Dell, Nordstrom and Zappos all made their deliveries on time, even though they offered the latest cutoff date of any of the 40 retailers: Dec. 23.

Of all the orders placed by StellaService, 93 percent used UPS or FedEx. UPS was the preferred carrier, responsible for 59 percent of the packages.

Last year, retailers and shippers were devastated by unusually cold weather that stymied attempts to deliver gifts on time.

“The weather last year was a significant reason why carriers were performing so poorly,” Hills said. “Luckily, there was no major inclement weather this year that could affect deliveries in” the last few days.

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