The majority of fashion retailers and parcel carriers emerged unscathed from post-Black Friday and Cyber Monday delivery delays this year.
Delivery management software business MetaPack has estimated that 92% of parcels were delivered on time over the Black Friday weekend and on Cyber Monday (from November 27 to 30), up from 73% last year.
Debenhams, River Island and Marks & Spencer were among those forced to delay deliveries of online orders in December 2014 because of the spike in demand, while parcel carrier Yodel had to suspend collections from retailers for two days.
This year, Debenhams experienced a 600% increase in online orders against a normal day, processing more than 300 online orders a minute, but said it delivered within the promised timescales.
“Debenhams has been planning for Black Friday since the beginning of the year and in the run-up to the day we stress-tested our website to ensure that we could meet the extra demand,” a spokesman told Drapers.
“We kept our next-day delivery promise to customers and had 40% more drivers on the road that weekend. We also appointed 8,000 seasonal staff in our stores.”
M&S said it made preparations based on lessons learnt last year. “Over the last year we’ve been working to ensure that we’re well set up for peak, including our distribution operations at Castle Donington,” a spokeswoman added.
“We’ve put in place a number of key building blocks based on the lessons of last Christmas aimed at improving our processes and making them more robust. For example we have increased the number and expertise of the engineers on site.”
John Lewis, which enjoyed its busiest ever single day of trading on Black Friday, said its distribution teams successfully processed 18% more parcels over the weekend, compared to last year. John Lewis operations director Dino Rocos said this was “testament to its forward-planning”.
MetaPack chief executive Patrick Wall said: “Thanks to the depth of preparation made by both retailers and carriers, the sharing of forecasts and the adoption of multi-carrier contracts to cover the period, retailers were able to manage capacity and worked in tandem with carriers to clear orders.”
Some cracks did appear, however, after consumers spent a record £3.3bn online across the Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday.
Parcel delivery and returns service CollectPlus said Black Friday returns peaked on December 4. The most returned orders were fashion items, accounting for 46% of the total.
Young fashion etailer Boohoo said there were a “handful of isolated incidents” where customers experienced delays.
Womenswear chain Oasis was forced to tell some shoppers it was unable to fulfil orders after it sold out of popular products.
Tesco issued an online apology to online customers on Black Friday after its delivery system buckled under the strain of orders. It said, in some cases, delays could exceed nine days.
Oasis and Tesco did not respond to request for comment.
Blob: This week Next upped the stakes in the pre-Christmas delivery battle, offering customers their purchases free if it fails to keep to its delivery schedule.