Early results from 2017 holiday shopping show big increases in spending. As of this writing brick and mortar results are still preliminary with Cyber Monday and weekend online purchases still not tallied. But a survey conducted by Voxware indicates this year’s shoppers have higher expectations than in previous years. And they want flawless delivery in record times. Will the increased activity and inflated expectations dampen shoppers’ confidence in online ordering when they count on expeditious delivery the most?
Reuters reports that US Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales were up by 17.9 percent this year. But wait - that’s the online sales and amounts to a record $7.9 billion for the 2 days. This represents a shift in spending from brick and mortar stores as people are putting their confidence in online stores and relying on the fact that the orders they place online are as good as, and more convenient than driving to the store and facing (diminishing) crowds at the checkout counter.
It had better get there
Here’s the rundown of Voxware’s biennial survey on consumer expectations, and if anything it should be seen as a not so subtle warning that consumers have raised their expectations of online stores. They expect orders to be on-time and as-ordered. And retailers who don’t meet up with the new standards can expect to lose out to their competitors immediately. That’s because loyalty is no longer tied to a location and it’s simply too easy to click a different link and buy from a different web site when the first order doesn’t arrive as expected.
The shift to online holiday buying is on with 17% of Voxware’s respondents completing more then 75% of their buying between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 56% of those buyers expect their orders to arrive within 2 days - and that 2 day delivery be the standard rather than an extra cost option. Certainly Amazon’s Prime membership has ingrained the 2-day delivery mantra into shoppers’ psyches even if they don’t recognize the yearly membership fee is part of the equation.
Shoppers want to know where their purchases are when they buy online and 95% say that being able to track their packages is a major part of their buying decision. After all, taking your purchases from the store checkout line to your car and then to the house provides a lot of confidence that what you bought will make it home as expected. Shoppers want that same reassurance from their online retailers.
Fast and on-time delivery is increasingly important because more people are having online purchases delivered to themselves and not to the recipients of their gifts. 93% report they would rather receive the package so they can re wrap and deliver the gift themselves. Those gifts better be where they should on time, and that time frame is dwindling as shoppers believe their preferred stores will, in fact, meet their delivery promises.
Retailers need to make certain their warehousing and distribution systems are in top shape to meet the growing tide of online orders. Unfortunately for those that haven’t prepped for this year’s activity, it may be too late for them. If they do survive they should start immediately to put the right systems in place and be ready for next year’s shoppers who are likely to have raised their expectations even farther.