The majority of retailers kept their shipping promises to consumers this holiday season, according to a study by Kurt Salmon, which is part of Accenture Strategy. E-tailers achieved their shipping goals, too, but according to a report from product intelligence provider Endcase, they could sell more by employing the proper filters.

The report shows that retailers are becoming increasingly adept at delivering until the last possible moment. About 97 percent of retailers were able to successfully process and deliver orders to customers on their last guaranteed shipping date before Christmas, compared with 87 percent in 2014 and 95 percent in 2015.

However, according to the report, at least 20 percent of retailers moved forward their deadline, or dropped the guarantee from the delivery promise. This may have been due to last-minute weather and capacity concerns.

The overall high success rate shows that the conservative approach allowed retailers and carriers to be successful in a very challenging environment.

 “At this enormously emotive time of year, retailers are under huge pressure to deliver on their promises, particularly around the last guaranteed shipping date,” said Steve Osburn, managing director of Kurt Salmon. “While customers may have been surprised by the movement in the guaranteed last shipping date, retailers’ cautiousness paid off with a higher success rate, leaving no one empty-handed on Christmas morning.”

Retailers in the top three positions are luxury or aspirational brands, and include Saks Fifth Avenue, which allowed for orders until Dec. 23. Meanwhile, Coach Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. allowed customers to order up until the 22nd with standard shipping and still receive orders by Christmas.

Another nine retailers successfully delivered all orders with a last ship date of the 21st, while at least 15 percent of retailers moved their last shipping date forward in the weeks leading up to Christmas, which was the first time the study had captured this in action.

Online shipping deadlines were earlier this year, Dec. 20 versus Dec. 21 in 2015. Retailers with the enabled functionality replaced risky promises of online shipping with buy-online, pick-up-in-store. That allowed last-minute shoppers to order up until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve and pick up their items in the store that night.

Many retailers refined their messaging in the week leading up to Christmas to drive the buy online, pick-up-in-store service, allowing for last-minute sales to be captured without the risk of weather or an overloaded carrier network that could lead to broken promises on Christmas, the report said.

According to ComScore, Cyber Week 2016 logged $7 billion in sales. Edgecase, a product intelligence provider for online retailers, cited trends in shopping behavior, including an increase in mobile engagement and filter engagement. Its #25 Days of Shopper Insights campaign found that high-quality materials were a priority for shoe shoppers, and providing a filter for materials increased average purchase price by 29 percent.

The study found that shoppers are 68 percent more likely to convert and earn retailers 84 percent more revenue per visit if they can filter by size.

For higher-priced products, such as home appliances, user-oriented product information will seal the sale with the consumer 116 percent more so than if they shop appliances by wattage, for example.

While this seems obvious, there are some sites that don’t sell nail polish by shade. When the polish can be filtered by color, conversion rates rise 40 percent.

“With online sales continuing to rise, retailers have to ensure they are operationally competent to deliver on time, that they have the ability to change direction at a moment’s notice, and that they can offer flexible delivery alternatives such as buy online, pick-up-in- store,” Osburn said. “Otherwise, they risk customer disappointment, which can be damaging to even the most loyal relationships. Being nothing less than a well-oiled machine at this time of year is simply not an option.”

For its survey, Kurt Salmon measured 32 retailers across a range of categories, including traditional big boxes, specialty retailers and online-only e-tailers, and judged their ability to fulfill customer orders on their last guaranteed shipping date before Christmas.

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