Report looks at what drives holiday sales
Shoppers will do anything to qualify for free shipping — even spend more money if need be.
That's according to a new report by Radial and CFI Group, which surveyed online shoppers to find out what they expect from retailers during the holiday shopping season. Free shipping is seen as such a priority during the holiday selling season that 65% of the respondents said they are willing to purchase additional items to qualify for it.
Other findings regarding what influences online shopping during the holidays, include the following:
• 76% of shoppers will shop at a competitor's website if a retailer runs out of product.
• 95% will wait up to five days for standard shipping.
• 47% will shop with competitors the next time if a retailer's shipment arrives later than expected.
• 14% use in-store pickup as one of their typical delivery choices.
• 36% prefer live chat for customer service during the holiday season.
To meet these varying customer needs, retailers must have the operational flexibility to offer a variety of fulfillment options, according to the report. Inventory control, free shipping levels, standard shipping guarantees, in-store pickup options, and both phone reps and live chat must all be carefully orchestrated to deliver tailored experiences customers. And reps must be given the latitude to listen to and address specific fulfillment needs of each customer.
"It's about flexibility," said CFI Group CEO Sheri Petras. "If a retailer has all those fulfillment options available, the customer is going to be able to stay within that retail family, as opposed to shopping someplace else."
Amazon shortens delivery time again — this time to minutes
Online giant Amazon continues to shorten delivery time with a new service that puts goods in shoppers’ hands within minutes of placing their order.
Amazon on Tuesday introduced Instant Pickup, a free service for Prime and Prime Student members that offers a curated selection of daily essentials available for pickup in two minutes or less. The service launched at five of Amazon’s fully staffed pickup locations in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Berkeley, Calif., Columbus, Ohio, and College Park, Md., and will be rolled out to more locations in the coming months. Amazon currently operates a total of 22 staffed pickup locations on or near college campuses across the country.
The merchandise available with Instant Pickup include snacks, beverages, personal care items, phone chargers and other tech essentials. It also features such Amazon’s devices as the Echo and a selection of Fire tablets and Kindle readers.
“As shopping behaviors continue to evolve, customers consistently tell us that they want items even faster," said Ripley MacDonald, director, student programs, Amazon. "While Instant Pickup is available at select pickup locations today, we’re excited about bringing this experience to more customers soon.”
With Instant Pickup, Prime and Prime student members use the Amazon app to shop hundreds of items. Shoppers can browse the selection, place an order, and pick it up from a self-service locker – all within two minutes or less, Amazon said.
Some industry experts commented that with its new pickup program, Amazon is moving into a retail market long dominated by convenience stores.
"As 7-Eleven execs recover from the Amazon-cart that just knocked them off their feet, a close look at the positioning of this new offering shows a bold move into a new shopping space for Amazon,” said Luke Starbuck, VP of marketing, Linc. "While fast delivery has been at their core for a long time, the combination of speed and pickup is a different model than two-hour delivery, or pickup from a locker. Effectively, this new combination places convenience stores squarely in the cross-hairs, although Amazon has a lot of ground to make up before they have the store distribution. It raises the question of whether they are eyeing existing convenience brands as potential acquisitions."
Aldi turns up the heat in already competitive supermarket industry
German discount grocer Aldi is jumping into home grocery delivery.
The retailer announced a pilot program with Instacart, the on-demand grocery delivery service. Starting later this month, the service will be available in Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles, with potential for future expansion.
Shoppers in the pilot markets will be able to fill their virtual carts by visiting Instacart.com or downloading the Instacart app. At checkout, they can choose a delivery window that works best with their schedule, anywhere from an hour or up to a week later.
Aldi's partnership with Instacart will help it compete with more upmarket grocery chains that have already made home delivery part of their game plan. It also gives the no-frill chain a leg up on another German discount grocer, Lidl, which has just started expanding in the United States.
"Our partnership with Instacart is another example of Aldi expanding our commitment to customer convenience and value," said Jason Hart, CEO of Aldi, which operates nearly 1,700 U.S. stores in 35 states. "We know customers are looking for new ways to save time and money. Instacart provides easy access to our low prices at the click of a button."
To celebrate the partnership, Aldi and Instacart are offering customers $20 off their first Instacart order until Sept. 30.