The pressures of Christmas have seen retailers losing up to a fifth of online customers. Stock availability issues and unsuitable delivering times have seen 19 per cent of line shoppers use an alternative retailer, according to a new report by YouGov.
The third annual JDA/Centiro Christmas Customer Pulse report (conducted online by YouGov) indicates that as many as 12 per cent of UK adults online who did any shopping online said they used an alternative retailer because their preferred retailer did not have items available online.
In addition, seven per cent stated they had shopped with an alternative retailer because delivery times failed to meet their requirements.
Key findings include:
• Stock availability issues and unsuitable delivery times have resulted in retailers losing nearly a fifth (19 per cent) of their customers to rivals over the Christmas shopping period
• 78 per cent of UK adults said they would switch to an alternative retailer when shopping online, due to a poor experience with ordering an item online at Christmas
• Nearly a third (32 per cent) of Christmas Click & Collect shoppers encountered issues with their online orders. Citing issues such as:
• Long waiting times due to a lack of in-store staff (32 per cent)
• Taking a long time to locate items in-store (30 per cent)
“Christmas shoppers have become increasingly savvy, as they look to use the channels that best suit their budget and lifestyle. This means retailers cannot afford to stand still if they are to meet customers’ growing online shopping expectations,” said Jason Shorrock, vice president of retail strategy EMEA at JDA. “Customers expect products to be available 24/7 and for retailers to offer convenient delivery and collection options. This is the added level of complexity that retailers must be able to cope with. Ultimately, a smarter and more effective supply chain shouldn’t just be for Christmas – without one, retailers risk damaging customer loyalty and their profits throughout the year.”
Slight decrease in delivery and Click & Collect issues over the festive period
Overall the research revealed a slight decrease in the number of delivery and Click & Collect issues encountered by UK online Christmas shoppers as 32 per cent of online Christmas shoppers stated they had experienced an issue with their online purchases (a decrease from 33 per cent the previous year). Of those shoppers that encountered an issue, 31 per cent experienced late deliveries, 23 per cent never actually received the items that they ordered and 22 per cent received damaged items. Nearly a third (32 per cent) of Christmas Click & Collect shoppers encountered issues with their Click & Collect orders, which is a decrease from 36 per cent the previous year. From the issues listed, long waiting times due to a lack of in-store staff (32 per cent), and staff being unable to locate or taking a long time to locate items in-store (30 per cent), were cited as the primary reasons that had a negative impact on the Christmas Click & Collect shopping experience by those that experienced any issues.
While such issues remain, it isn’t surprising that 78 per cent of UK adults online said they would switch to an alternative retailer when shopping online, due to a poor experience with ordering an item online at Christmas. Specifically, 76 per cent would switch to an alternative retailer because of a poor home delivery experience, 66 per cent due to a poor Click & Collect experience, 74 per cent as a result of a poor returns experience and 79 per cent due to poor issue resolution.
“While it is encouraging to see a slight reduction in Christmas online delivery and Click & Collect issues, retailers shouldn’t be cracking open the champagne just yet. These findings must be tempered by the fact that Christmas online sales volumes continue to grow,” added Jason Shorrock. “While many retailers focused on providing dedicated areas for Click & Collect this Christmas, long waiting times and staff being unable to locate items in-store continue to tarnish the customer experience. Even more worrying is the significant number of shoppers who either didn’t receive their online goods or found they were damaged. This is unacceptable at any time, but especially at Christmas. There will be little festive cheer for retailers next year if poor online customer experiences drive shoppers to the competition.”
Click & Collect usage plateaus, but the gap narrows between cost and convenience
The research highlighted that 39 per cent of online Christmas shoppers used Click & Collect Services, compared to 41 per cent (2015) and 39 per cent (2014) the previous two years. However, of those respondents that used Click & Collect for online Christmas shopping, 1 in 5 (20 per cent) said they would use Click & Collect more next Christmas. Interestingly, the while Click & Collect Christmas shoppers stated that avoiding delivery charges was their reason for using the service (53 per cent), it was closely followed by it being more convenient than home delivery (50 per cent). This three per cent difference compares to one of seven per cent when the same question was asked last year (Cost – 56 per cent, Convenience – 49 per cent), indicating that convenience is becoming just as important as cost to online shoppers.
Impact of Christmas delivery deadlines
This year, many retailers again set Christmas ordering deadlines to try to ensure items were received in time; this shaped shopping behaviour in the lead up to Christmas. More than a quarter (27 per cent) of Christmas online shoppers ordered items online earlier than planned (compared to 23 per cent in 2015), while 21 per cent shopped in store, instead of online (compared to 19 per cent in 2015).
Niklas Hedin, CEO of Centiro, commented: “Christmas delivery deadlines have become a crucial necessity for many retailers as they look to keep order promises. However, as many online shoppers increasingly come to expect same- and next-day deliveries as the norm, the prospect of customer loyalty for promises kept brings with it significant potential gains. Those retailers that can effectively scale their delivery networks to offer flexible delivery options while at the same time guarantee order promises will be the winners in 2017.”
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,070 adults and fieldwork was undertaken between 29th to 30th December 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
To download the JDA/Centiro Christmas Customer Pulse Report 2017, click here.