More than a third (36%) of Christmas Click & Collect shoppers encountered issues with their 'Click & Collect' orders, according to the second annual JDA/Centiro Christmas Customer Pulse report (conducted online by YouGov).
Of those that encountered any of the issues listed, not having a dedicated area in-store for 'Click & Collect' purchases (31%), long waiting times due to lack of in-store staff (31%), and staff being unable to / taking a long time to locate items in-store (24%) were cited as the primary reasons that potentially had a negative impact on Christmas 'Click & Collect' customers' shopping experience.
Overall, problems with online orders continued to impact retailers over the festive period, with 33% of online Christmas shoppers stating they had experienced issues with their purchases (an increase from 31% the previous year*). Of those shoppers that had encountered any of the problems listed, 48% had suffered from late deliveries or never received their goods; a further 48% had suffered from missed deliveries including when they were at home. Unsurprisingly, more than three-quarters (77%) of Brits said they would be likely to switch to shopping with an alternative retailer next Christmas as a result of a poor online Christmas shopping experience.
"While online retail continues to see unprecedented growth in the UK, Christmas shoppers continued to be plagued with problems concerning their online orders. While issues with home deliveries are nothing new, more worrying for many retailers is that this Christmas exposed cracks in their 'Click & Collect' operations," said Jason Shorrock, vice president of retail strategy at JDA.
"Shoppers are showing a growing preference for 'Click & Collect' as it offers them the convenience they crave and it is vital that retailers get it right. However, without the effective management of staff, stores and inventory, retailers risk damaging customer relationships. Ironically, at a time when the online channel continues to grow, the in-store experience is becoming ever more important. As the survey findings show, today's online customer has no qualms about taking their business elsewhere if retailers don't meet their expectations."
Despite problems, Click & Collect continues to grow in popularity
Despite the perceived issues, the research highlighted that a growing number (41%) of online Christmas shoppers opted to use 'Click & Collect' services this Christmas compared to 2014 (39%*). Furthermore, of those respondents that used 'Click & Collect' services this Christmas, nearly 1 in 4 (24%) said they would use 'Click & Collect' more next Christmas, 56% said they used Click & Collect to avoid delivery charges, while 49% said it was more convenient than home delivery. A quarter of online Christmas shoppers (25%) said they chose to shop specifically with a retailer that offered 'Click & Collect' over one that solely offered home delivery.
Product availability and ordering deadlines
Product availability also dictated online Christmas shoppers buying behaviour – 12% of online Christmas shoppers said they shopped with an alternative retailer as a result of their preferred one not having the items they needed online. A further 9% said they shopped with an alternative retailer as their preferred one didn't have delivery times that suited them. The research also revealed that nearly a quarter (23%) of online Christmas shoppers ordered items earlier than planned, as a result of ordering deadlines mandated by retailers. Interestingly, nearly a fifth (19%) said that Christmas ordering deadlines meant they shopped in-store as opposed to online.
"Today's online customer is now demanding shorter order-to-delivery windows and greater choice over where and when goods are delivered. For retailers, this means ensuring they have full visibility over their inventory and their delivery networks. In the lead up to Christmas, many retailers added much more delivery capacity to deal with spikes in demand, but it is clear customer expectations still aren't being met. It is also evident that retailers need greater insight into their carrier networks so they can offer more flexible and convenient delivery options," said Niklas Hedin, CEO of Centiro.
Impact of Christmas sales events
Over the last few years, online sales events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have grown in popularity. Indeed, the research highlighted that 49% of online Christmas shoppers did at least some of their Christmas shopping during sales events. Of those respondents, 10% said not all the items in their basket were still available by the time they reached the online checkout; while 8% said they didn't want an item once it was received, so they returned it.
"The anecdotal evidence is that retailers coped a lot better when it came to pre-Christmas sales events this year, as they were able to spread demand over a week rather than single day. However, such events do encourage 'impulse buying' that has an impact on product availability and growing return volumes. These issues continue to pose questions of retailers' supply chains and will ultimately dictate if they had a successful Christmas and a profitable New Year," added Jason Shorrock.