For the 2021 holiday shopping season, our December 2021 survey revealed that 31% of US online adults said shipping times were longer than they expected (i.e., deliveries were late), 30% said estimated shipping time frames were frequently longer than they expected, and 16% said they frequently had online orders canceled completely. Imagine the dashed expectations!

Our new research, Leverage Order Management Systems To Conquer US Consumers’ Elevated Fulfillment Expectations, outlines how retailers should configure their order management system (OMS) to meet customers’ rising delivery expectations — advice that’s pertinent both now and into 2023.

  • Underpromise on delivery timing to avoid 2021’s mishaps. Retailers must accurately manage customer expectations — at any time of year. What customers need from you: transparency about delivery timelines, clear schedules and deadlines prominently displayed, and investment in optimization technology such as OMSes. That optimization enables retailers to simultaneously promise delivery timelines that they can meet and manage shipping costs during the season of peak order volume.
  • Don’t try to compete with Amazon’s shipping offerings. Just 21% of US online adults consider next- or same-day delivery (like Amazon offers) among the most influential factors when deciding which retailer to purchase from online. More than half of US online adults expect Amazon to deliver quickly, but only 41% expect the same from other retail stores, per our June 2022 data. Instead of trying to rival Amazon’s speedy delivery service by investing more in fulfillment (or worse, promising timing you can’t meet), focus on setting and meeting expectations to win and retain your trusting customers.
  • Prepare for a bump in pickup orders during peak (like this week). Thirty-one percent of US online adults who have purchased items online and picked them up in a store opted to do so to avoid spending time finding the item(s) in store, and 28% wanted to collect their purchase the same day. Despite these time-saving motivations, during the 2021 holiday shopping season, 19% of US online adults said their in-store or curbside pickup orders frequently took longer than expected, and 31% reported that this happened occasionally. Still, customers are increasing their pickup usage. In June 2022, 53% reported that they planned to use curbside pickup at least once in the next three months (58% said the same for in-store pickup), so staff and stock during these final holiday shopping days to meet pickup demands.

For more insights into consumer delivery expectations and how you can meet them, read the full report here. If you’re a Forrester client, please get in touch with your questions about how retail fulfillment tech such as order management systems can maximize this opportunity for you in the year ahead.