— Shoppers clicking "buy" on smartphones,
tablets and laptops spent almost $20 billion online from
Thanksgiving through Monday. Now retailers have to turn
that spending spree into a flood of cardboard boxes on
their way to shoppers’ doorsteps.
keep up, both retailers and United Parcel Service are
trying to give customers accustomed to quick deliveries
a few incentives to be patient.
marked the biggest day of online sales in history, with
consumers shelling out $6.59 billion at the top 100 U.S.
retailers, according to Adobe. The record comes with a
challenge: handling a sudden surge in orders without
disappointing customers who expect their packages to
arrive on schedule.
for a few years has given customers in its Prime
membership program, which includes two-day shipping, the
option to accept slower delivery in exchange for credits
to spend on videos, music or restaurant orders. But this
will be the first holiday season Macy’s has offered
all customers at high-volume times a similar choice,
after a test in some markets last fall.
"no hurry shipping" lets customers opt for a
longer delivery time in exchange for an incentive. On
Cyber Monday, customers willing to wait six to nine
business days were offered Macy’s Money that could be
used on future purchases, though the reward can vary,
said spokeswoman Andrea Schwartz.
Tuesday, Macy’s was no longer offering the "no
hurry" option, but it will be back in the days
before Christmas and other popular gift-giving holidays.
That might mean packages arrive after the holiday, but
some customers are buying for themselves and don’t
have a hard deadline, Schwartz said.
meanwhile, offers economy shipping, which promises
delivery within six to eight business days for $4.95,
instead of the standard three to six business days for
$7.50 within the continental U.S.
Burritt, of Morton, Ill., shopping at Oakbrook Center on
Monday, said she might consider waiting if shopping for
herself, but would worry about willingly slowing the
arrival of gifts for others. "I feel like if I don’t
get it right away, I might not get it in time for
Christmas," she said.
Katie Clunk, of Portland, Ore., said she doesn’t mind
waiting for Amazon’s no-rush option when the retailer
offers an appealing reward. "It depends on how
badly I need it and whether the promotion is worth
it," said Clunk, shopping with her mom while
visiting family over Thanksgiving.
stores have turned free or faster shipping into a way to
compete for sales, customers’ expectations have risen.
Nearly 90 percent of Chicago consumers think "fast
shipping" means delivery within two days, compared
with just 53 percent in 2016, according to a survey by
consultancy Deloitte. But free still beats fast,
according to an overwhelming 86 percent of Chicagoans
surveyed by Deloitte.
retailers, encouraging customers to wait for packages is
a no-brainer, said Bobby Stephens, a senior manager in
Deloitte Digital’s retail practice. As the holiday
shopping season stretches earlier and earlier into
November, most consumers don’t actually need orders to
arrive right away. Spreading them out lessens the impact
on a retailer’s supply chain, and offering a store
credit could encourage another purchase, he said.
think the incentive ends up being worth it to not have
to deal with the customer service ramifications of not
delivering on time," he said.
also could help retailers avoid extra costs that one
major package shipper added to help cope with the
surging volume of packages.
June, UPS announced new surcharges for deliveries during
the busiest holiday weeks. The fees add 27 cents for
residential deliveries between Nov. 19 and Dec. 2 and
Dec. 17 to Dec. 23, or up to 97 cents for faster
shipping during the latter period.
ships more than 19 million packages on a typical day.
But that figure frequently topped 30 million during the
2016 holidays, UPS said.
company expects to deliver about 750 million packages
worldwide between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve,
roughly 5 percent more than last year.
too soon to say how the peak charges are affecting
shipments, but the holiday delivery season is "off
to a good start," said UPS spokesman Matthew O’Connor.