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Consumers and retailers alike leave it late for Christmas: research

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Shoppers will be happy to place Christmas online orders later this year and still feel confident that their goods will arrive in time, new research suggests.

The latest eCustomerServiceIndex from IMRG and eDigitalResearch suggested that 47% of shoppers would order online up to less than a week before Christmas Day, while 32% would be happy to order on Saturday December 20 with confidence that it would arrive on time. Most (53%) would be happy to order on Wednesday December 17 for timely delivery.

Last year only 34% of shoppers were willing to order with less than a week to go.

But despite consumers’ growing trust in retailers’ delivery promises, the research found that 18% of those questioned had previously ordered gifts online that did not arrive in time, even though 91% of that group thought the order was placed early enough.

Derek Eccleston, commercial director at eDigitalResearch, said: “Our latest consumer results indicate the need for retailers and their courier partners to have a comprehensive logistics strategy in place this Christmas. Year after year, we’ve seen retailers increasing push their last ordering dates closer to Christmas Day itself and it’s important for retailers to ensure that they see through on these promises.”

A study from shipping platform provider NetDespatch also foresees late orders, despite good intentions. While 47% of women said they’ll start shopping by September or October, many shoppers were planning to start later. Some 28% of the 2,000 adults questioned by Opinion Matters for the Santa’s Using SaaS study said they would leave their Christmas buying to November, and 21% said they would start in December. A significant 9% said they would not start shopping until the week before Christmas Eve. Yet 30% of men and 24% of women said they would make no alternative arrangements for Christmas presents that had not arrived.

“We know that online shopping provides a huge opportunity for retailers,” said Becky Clarke, chief executive of NetDespatch, “but in order for consumers to remain happy with their online experiences, the order, despatch and delivery mechanisms have to be efficient, which is not always easy or straightforward.”

Meanwhile, new research suggests one in three online retailers is not yet ready for this year’s peak Christmas period because they do not offer crucial crosschannel shopping functionality, new research suggests.

Ampersand research suggests that’s because they are not offering at least one of four basic services that underlie crosschannel shopping. It classed these firstly, as a persistent cart, that can be seen, with the same items in it, from whichever channel a shopper checks. It also included a transactional mobile site, express delivery for the same day, next day or a Sunday, and free and easy returns.

It calculates that one in three of the top 100 online retailers are not offering their customers at least one of these services.

Darryl Adie, managing director of Ampersand Commerce , said: “With £8.7bn being spent via smartphones and tablet devices between May and July of this year, retailers need to do everything in their power to make the mobile shopping experience easy for consumers, especially during the Christmas rush.

“Thos that are yet to offer basic services that consumers demand are in danger of missing out on potential revenue and customer loyalty.”

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