The 2013 holiday shopping season was largely defined by its price wars.
And while those are sure to continue this year, another type of battle is already starting to take shape: Shipping wars.
Despite a slew of late deliveries last holiday—the result of last-minute delivery promises and a series of snowstorms—retailers are looking to get a leg up on the competition by pushing Christmas deadlines for online orders even later in the season.
According to a new study by Kurt Salmon, which surveyed more than 100 retailers with revenue greater than $750 million, 26 percent will guarantee Christmas delivery for orders placed one to three days ahead of time. That’s up from 17 percent in 2013. What’s more, nearly 50 percent will guarantee on-time delivery for Christmas orders placed by Dec. 20. That’s also up, from 37 percent last year.
Overall, these changes mean retailers plan to push back the final order date for guaranteed Christmas arrival from an average of 6.9 days to 5.5 days.
“Retailers are making ambitious promises in order to capture last-minute online sales,” said Steve Osburn, retail strategist at Kurt Salmon. “But if you compare average delivery times with last-minute promises, there is a gap that retailers will need to account for.”
The consulting firm’s findings come as carriers FedEx (FDX) and UPS (UPS) are warning retailers against the 11th-hour delivery promises that lead to shipping delays. Experts remain torn as to whether retailers will listen; while some argue they will heed the warning to protect their brand and build trust with shoppers, others say they’ll be unable to resist the temptation as the competition intensifies.
Earlier this season, a Shop.org study of 55 online retailers found that nearly 80 percent of respondents were planning earlier deadlines.
Source: CNBC | Krystina Gustafson