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Retailers brace themselves for a Manic Monday

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Retailers will be bracing themselves for a Manic Monday in which it’s predicted that sales could pass those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

IMRG and Experian predicted sales on December 8 would hit £676.5m, as shoppers spend £470,000 a minute. That’s higher than the £555.5m the two forecast for Black Friday sales, or the £649.9m that was expected to be spent on Cyber Monday. On Monday, the two have said, retail websites will see 151m visits, 26% up on the equivalent day last year.

“Manic Monday will be the biggest day for ecommerce since the internet began as well as the biggest day for mobile spending,” said Darryl Adie, managing director, Ampersand Commerce . With half of shoppers set to buy Christmas presents on mobile, this channel is fast becoming one of the strongest retail platforms. Retailers that do not have optimised mobile sites are expected to miss out on a huge portion of online revenues, approximately £235,000 per minute, resulting in significant loss.”

Evidence is already emerging of sales that are well ahead of last year. According to parcels shipping platform NetDespatch, online orders over Black Friday and Cyber Monday were well ahead of last year. Orders on Black Friday were 50% up on the equivalent day last year, and peaked at 17 orders a second printed from its software-as-a-service platform by retailers fulfilling their orders. Click and collect orders were up by 100% on last year. And on Cyber Monday, orders were up 34%, year-on-year, and up by 31% compared to this year’s Black Friday.

“Every year on our platform, Cyber Monday figures completely outstrip any industry estimates by a significant margin,” said NetDespatch chief executive, Becky Clark. “Black Friday has gained ground in the ecommerce calendar in the UK over the last few years, but this is the first time we have seen such a boom in online orders placed on that day. With ever-increasing consumer confidence in reliable delivery, fuelled both by our integrated despatch solutions, and now also by the number of delivery options available, we expect growth in the number of parcels we handle in 2015 to be exponential.”

But that confidence may now be called into question as shoppers wait for their purchases to be delivered. Last week’s Black Friday saw some websites crash while on others thousands of shoppers queued. The Grocer this week reported that Tesco click and collect orders were running two days slow – in a year that has seen Tesco expand its click and collect availability to all its branches – while shoppers with Argos are seeing home deliveries delayed amid “higher than normal volumes” of sales, according to text messages sent to shoppers by the general merchandise retailer. Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer has also come under fire on social media as shoppers face lengthy waits for deliveries. As of December 9, the retailer promises standard home delivery within 10 days, while next day delivery to store is no longer available.

Paul Doble, chief sales and marketing officer at independent mail, parcels and logistics end-to-end network operator DX, says retailers may have bitten off more than they can chew. “With such a huge volume of purchases needing to be delivered to consumers, retailers with an online presence are in danger of overwhelming the capacity of their distribution networks and run the risk of leaving unwelcome spaces under the nation’s Christmas trees.

“Throughout the busy Christmas trading season, retailers must try to forecast as accurately as possible the volumes that will need to be sent, and then communicate these expectations to their logistics partners, who will take up a huge percentage of this volume. The alternative is the situation many retailers have faced in previous years, where through a combination of inaccurate planning, poor communication and unanticipated weather conditions, demand outstrips capacity and leaves retailers unable to meet their promises to online shoppers. It’s a problem that is often exacerbated as we get closer to Christmas when retailers try to maximise the online shopping window, pushing back their Christmas order deadlines and thereby drastically increasing the risk of delayed deliveries when bad weather and other factors disrupt the supply chain.

“Ultimately, when Christmas presents fail to arrive, it will be the retailer that bears the brunt of disgruntled customers and negative publicity. As such, retailers need to be asking themselves the question: just how robust are my Christmas delivery plans?”

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