If inflation wasn’t bad enough, consumers are experiencing fulfillment delays this holiday shopping season. And it is making them ditch a merchant if it occurs a few times.
According to the latest research from Voxware, a provider of cloud-based voice and analytic supply chain solutions, shoppers surveyed in its biennial consumer survey “report that delivery delays and inaccurate orders have increased of late and indicate they will abandon retailers that fail to meet their expectations for shipping and returns management.”
Researchers at the company also said in a statement that improving distribution operations “will have heightened importance this holiday season as 56 percent of survey respondents report they will be buying fewer gifts due to inflation and economic concerns.”
Keith Phillips, president and chief executive officer of Voxware, said meeting customer expectations “must be the first priority for retailers. Yet increased mistakes and delays are disappointing customers. Much of the success or failure in meeting customer expectations fall on warehouse services and its ability to move product quickly and accurately into and through the distribution center and out for delivery.”
Authors of the report said that, post-pandemic, retailers “must keep store shelves stocked and online distribution humming as customers return to stores for holiday shopping but maintain their online and hybrid shopping habits.”
The survey showed that 38 percent of respondents “expect to purchase more gifts in stores than they did during the pandemic,” while 40 percent of those polled noted they will “buy more than 75 percent of their holiday gifts online in 2022, slightly more than the 46 percent who were buying that much online in 2020.”
Of those polled, 60 percent said they found that shopping online and picking up in stores during the pandemic “was convenient, and they will continue to shop for some of their holiday gifts this way,” while 68 percent of respondents said they “are more likely to purchase little items like stocking stuffers in store this year than they were during the pandemic.”
With shipping, the authors of the report noted that shoppers “have grown intolerant of delivery delays and inaccurate order fulfillment and are increasingly more likely to punish retailers who disappoint them.” Forty-four percent of consumers polled “claim that up to 10 percent of their orders arrive later than promised, and another 20 percent report experiencing late deliveries up to 25 percent of the time.”
Meanwhile, 61 percent of respondents admit to worrying that gift purchases done online will have delivery delays, while 65 percent said that they will abandon shopping with a retailer altogether
after two to three late deliveries. And 81 percent of respondents said if a retailer sends an incorrect order two to three times, “they will abandon shopping with that retailer altogether.”
Researchers at Voxware said in their report that there is increasing consensus that products purchased online need to arrive within two to four days of being ordered. The report found that 60 percent of respondents “expect this delivery window assuming no expedited shipping was requested. In past years’ surveys, expectations were more distributed across a range from same-day arrival to allowing more than a week’s shipping time.
“All of the issues that we’ve examined and reported on expose the need for automation technology to better train workers and ensure accuracy for timely and correct orders,” Phillips said. “In 2022, only 24 percent of consumers reported their expectations for correct and on-time delivery for items purchased online is higher than it was two years prior. Consumers have endured two years of inconsistent service and are now making changes to the way in which they shop and who they choose to shop with.”