Reports

StellaService Study: See Which Retailers Met Guarantees for Christmas Delivery

In its annual study of retailers’ ability to deliver packages in the twilight of the holiday shopping season, StellaService found four companies that saved Christmas. Apple, Dell, Nordstrom and Zappos all provided an aggressive guarantee that orders placed by Dec. 23 would be delivered by Christmas and managed to meet that promise in all regions of the U.S.

StellaService placed four orders for 40 of the largest retailers, one to each region – East, Midwest, South and West. All orders were placed on the advertised Christmas cutoff date. If the cutoff date was not stated, StellaService Analysts calculated the date based on the delivery estimate for standard shipping or free expedited shipping.

“Retailers did a nice job this year on fulfillment,” said Kevon Hills, StellaService vice president of research. “You saw many of these packages leave the warehouse the same day the order was placed, which is the best effort the retailer can make. Everyone seemed to learn from last year’s woes and make the proper improvements.”

Nine of the 40 retailers missed delivery to at least one region (7% of packages). Those retailers were:

  • Best Buy
  • Costco
  • Crate & Barrel
  • J.C. Penney
  • Kohl’s
  • Macy’s
  • Staples
  • Toys ‘R Us
  • Wayfair

Staples and Toys ‘R Us missed delivery in multiple regions. In the case of Staples, the retailer cancelled an order without notifying the shopper. It’s also worth nothing that Toys ‘R Us made an effort to push shoppers to their omnichannel initiatives. After the Toys ‘R Us cutoff date passed, the retailer prominently advertised its buy online, pickup in store initiative on its homepage.

StellaService conducted the same study in 2013 with a set of 25 companies. Of the companies tested year-over-year, Staples, Macy’s and Kohl’s missed a delivery both years.

Carrier Performance

UPS was the preferred carrier (59%) followed by FedEx (34%). Of the nine delayed packages:

  • 8 were shipped UPS
  • 6 were ordered to the South region
  • More packages were shipped expedited (56%) than standard or economy

Most preferred methods:

  • UPS Ground (25%)
  • FedEx Home Delivery (14%)
  • FedEx Standard Overnight (14%)
  • UPS 2nd Day Air (14%)
  • UPS Next Day Air Saver (14%)

Missed Christmas Delivery (Retailer – Region)

Best Buy – South
CUTOFF: Stated as 12/22 with free 2 day shipping
Ordered: 12/22
Shipped: 12/22
Shipping Method: UPS Ground from Oklahoma City, OK
Current ETA: 12/29
Notes: Best Buy did not send any communications other than order and shipment confirmations. The order confirmation noted that the item would arrive by 12/24. The item was supposed to ship using an expedited method, but was shipped using a standard ground method.

Costco – West
CUTOFF: Calculated based on item at 3-5 business days (tablet)
Ordered: 12/17
Shipped: 12/17
Shipping Method: UPS Ground from Doraville, GA
Current ETA: 12/30
Notes: Costco did not send any communications other than order and shipment confirmations. The shipping confirmation maintained a 3-5 day delivery expectation.

Crate & Barrel – South
CUTOFF: Stated as 12/19
Ordered: 12/19
Shipped: 12/19
Shipping Method: FedEx Home Delivery from Tracy, CA
Current ETA: 12/26
Notes: Crate & Barrel did not send communications regarding delay. The shipping confirmation included a link to ‘customize your delivery,’ which linked to a FedEx site where shoppers can request notifications.

J.C. Penney – South
CUTOFF: Stated as 12/22, changed from original cutoff date of 12/20 (Free Next
Day Shipping over $49 if orders were placed by 12/22 at midnight)
Ordered: 12/22
Shipped: 12/24
Shipping Method: UPS Next Day Air Saver from Sparks, NV
Checkout confirmation showed 12/23 as estimated delivery date
Current ETA: 12/26
Notes: No communication from J.C. Penney about the delay. The shopper received a shipment confirmation on 12/23. Tracking details show a scan at 3 a.m. on 12/25 in Louisville, KY. The destination was Fort Worth, TX.

Kohl’s – Midwest
CUTOFF: Stated as 12/19
Ordered: 12/19
Shipped: Item not yet shipped
Shipping Method: UPS Next Day Air Saver
Notes: The shopper received a shipment confirmation on 12/20, but the UPS tracking page shows that the order is processed and ready for UPS.

Macy’s – Northeast
CUTOFF: Stated as 12/22, Changed from original cutoff date of 12/21
Ordered:12/22
Shipped: Item not yet shipped
Shipping Method: UPS Ground
Notes: The shopper received a shipment confirmation on 12/23, but the UPS tracking page shows that the order is processed and ready for UPS.

Staples – Midwest
CUTOFF: Calculated based on items available – 1 biz day for all shoppers ordering tablets
Ordered: 12/23
Cancelled: 12/24
Notes: The shopper received no notification of a cancellation from Staples. The order status on the website simply shows the order as cancelled. StellaService contacted Staples on 12/24 and the CSR did not know why the order was cancelled. The CSR noted that the department that handles such inquiries would reopen on 12/26.

Staples – South
CUTOFF: Calculated based on items available – 1 biz day for all shoppers ordering tablets
Ordered: 12/23
Shipped: 12/23
Shipping Method: UPS Ground from Atlanta, GA
Current ETA: 12/29
Notes: The shopper received no communication other than order and shipment confirmations. Both Staples and the carrier’s tracking details show an expected delivery of 12/29.

Toys ‘R Us – West
CUTOFF: Stated as 12/19
Ordered 12/19, Shipped 12/20
Shipping Method: UPS Ground from Newark, DE
Current ETA: 1/2
Notes: The shopper received no communication other than order and shipment confirmations.

Toys ‘R Us – South
CUTOFF: Stated as 12/19, stayed steady
Ordered: 12/19
Shipped: 12/22
Shipping Method: UPS Ground from East Peoria, IL
Current ETA: 12/29
Notes: The shopper received no communication other than order and shipment confirmations. Item was in stock and shopper selected standard shipping per cutoff verbiage

Wayfair – South
CUTOFF: Calculated for this shopper as 12/20 based on item
Ordered 12/20, Shipped 12/21
Shipping Method: FedEx Home Delivery from Ogden, UT
Current ETA: 12/26
Notes: The order confirmation provided an estimated delivery of 12/24 with a 12/22 shipping date. The confirmation received by the shopper on 12/22 had a revised estimated delivery of 12/26. The email itself made no specific mention of the late arrival.

Pushing the Limit and Succeeding

Nike, Dell and Estee Lauder all extended their cutoff dates to provide more time for shoppers and succeeded in following through with their promised Christmas delivery.

Nike: Original cutoff of 12/19 was moved to 12/22 with free expedited shipping options. All four items arrived on time via FedEx Standard Overnight.

Dell: Original cutoff of 12/17 was moved to 12/23 with free next day shipping. All four items arrived on time via FedEx Standard Overnight.

Estee Lauder: Original cutoff of 12/20 was moved to 12/22. All four items arrived via UPS 2nd Day Air.

Other Late Cutoff Successes

Apple: 12/23 Cutoff – UPS Next Day Air and FedEx Standard Overnight

Nordstrom: 12/23 Cutoff – UPS Next Day Air Saver

Sears: 12/22 Cutoff – UPS Ground and 2nd Day Air

Zappos: 12/23 Cutoff – UPS Next Day Air Saver and FedEx Standard Overnight

Companies included in the study:

Amazon
Apple
Barnes & Noble
Best Buy
Costco
Crate & Barrel
Dell
Estee Lauder
Footlocker
GameStop
Gap
Home Depot
HP
J.Crew
JC Penney
Kohl’s
L.L.Bean
Lands’ End
Lowe’s
Lululemon
Macy’s
Neiman Marcus
Newegg
Nike
Nordstrom
Office Depot
Pottery Barn
Ralph Lauren
Saks Fifth Avenue
Sears
Sephora
Sony
Staples
Target
Toys ‘R Us
Under Armour
Victoria’s Secret
Walmart
Wayfair
Zappos

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