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Online order problems spike over Christmas

Nearly one in three shoppers experienced issues with an online order over Christmas, up from one in five in 2013, according to the latest figures from retail solutions firm JDA and YouGov. 

A survey of around 2,400 UK adults found that the key trading period was plagued by problems across both home delivery and click-and-collect services. 

Missed deliveries accounted for 49% of troubles, followed closely by late or never received deliveries at 45%. An additional 19% said they were forced to use an alternative retailer as a result of their preferred option not having an item available or offering adequate delivery times.

The problems also extended to the 39% of shoppers who opted to pick up an order in store via click-and-collect. Despite 40% of those reporting a good experience, many believe there is room for improvement. Long collection waiting times were suffered by 30%, while 25% said staff were unable or took a long time to source goods in store. 

Nonetheless, just over a third said their use of the service will increase in 2015, with key motivations including avoiding delivery charges (61%) and greater convenience (53%.)

JDA retail strategy director Jason Shorrock said: “Shoppers want greater flexibility as to how and when they receive their online goods. But at the same time it is clear that home delivery reliability around the Christmas period remains something of a lottery.”

Retailing in December was marred by a succession of setbacks caused by a surge in Black Friday and Christmas purchases. Courier firm Yodel was forced to suspend its services, while Asos.com saw its website crash and several retailers delayed deliveries. 

The research also highlighted that 47% of Brits did at least half their shopping away from bricks-and-mortar stores. A total £1.3bn was predicted to be spent online across Christmas and Boxing Day alone by Experian and IMRG.

“The growth of online retail in the UK shows no sign of slowing down. At the same time, customers’ service expectations are greater than ever, meaning they will simply shop elsewhere if retailers fail to meet them. This in turn is placing greater strain on retailers’ supply chain capabilities, especially over the Christmas period when demand is at its highest,” added Shorrock. 

“Retail phenomena such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have only further increased consumer demand, yet retailers still struggle to cope effectively with its implications. The Christmas shopping experience can often dictate a person’s shopping habits for the next 12 months and beyond. At a time when margins remain squeezed, retailers need to ensure they are delivering a great experience both online and in store. Those that don’t will not have much to celebrate next Christmas.”

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