BOPIS Helps Retailers Improve Holiday Delivery Despite Fewer Cutoffs

A seeming disconnect between fewer last-order promise dates and faster holiday delivery times is explained by the rising popularity of buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS), according to an annual survey from Kurt Salmon.

This season 53% of retailers didn’t offer a last order promise date ahead of Christmas in order to avoid disappointing customers with holiday delivery, according to the study from Kurt Salmon, part of Accenture Strategy.

By comparison, in 2018 just 33 percent of retailers skipped a promised date for last-minute holiday delivery, and that was the highest figure since Kurt Salmon began measuring holiday shipping performance in 2013.

Despite the trend of fewer retailers offering guaranteed promise dates, delivery is getting faster, but order-by dates are not getting closer to Christmas. According to Kurt Salmon, 71% of shoppers said they would rather go to the store vs. paying for expedited shipping, and 54% of shoppers say that they get the best gift ideas from browsing in store.

Due to 2019’s shortened peak holiday season, the average shipping cutoff date for items to arrive by Christmas was Dec. 16, earlier than in past years, Kurt Salmon found. In 2018, it was Dec. 17, and it was Dec. 18 in both in 2016 and 2017.

Despite the earlier order-by-dates, this year’s top performing retailers fulfilled orders in an average of 1.8 days. They included AutoZone, CVS, Office Depot, Advanced Auto Parts, Amazon Prime, Best Buy, Burberry, Cabelas, Chanel, Staples, Timberland and Vans.

At the top for delivering standard shipping orders placed on or after Dec. 20 were Amazon Prime and Office Depot (orders received Dec. 23), L.L. Bean, Walmart and Victoria’s Secret (orders received Dec. 22), and Macy’s and Bloomingdales (orders received Dec. 21).

None of that compares to the product-in-hand speed of BOPIS. Kurt Salmon said Home Depot, Nordstrom, Kohl’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods fulfilled store pickup orders in less than four hours, even during Christmas crunch time.

Steve Osburn, managing director at Kurt Salmon, said many more retailers are excelling in terms of speed, visibility into inventory and the ability to fulfil last-minute orders.

“BOPIS is the real bright spot this year,” said Osburn. “Historically it was a difficult transaction for the customer, whereas now retailers have built ease and convenience into the experience by placing kiosks at the front of the store and allocating parking spaces. One of the critical components is to ensure they have a function on their mobile app or online that gives the opportunity for a customer to see all the inventory in an easy way in the store that is near them.”

According to the Kurt Salmon data, which wrapped in Black Friday and Cyber Monday ordering, average delivery time for the top 10 retailers improved 18% in 2019, from 2 days to 1.7 days, while 64% of retailers delivered an entire order within a week, about the same as in 2018 and up from 50% in 2017.

In assessing retailers’ ability to fulfill BOPIS orders on Black Friday, Kurt Salmon found significant improvement this year:

  • The best performers for overall customer experience were Home Depot, Nordstrom, Kohl’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • 88% of orders were processed on time, compared to 72% in 2018
  • The average order processing time was 2.5 hours, up 30% from 3.6 hours last year
  • Only 27% of retailers had an issue with orders, such as cancellation, wrong item, etc., a significant improvement over 60% in 2018
  • 85% of orders were fulfilled with no issues, again a big gain from 65% last year
  • Average wait time in store was around 4 minutes, down from 7 minutes in 2018)

Kurt Salmon placed orders with 50 U.S. retailers across a broad range of categories, including traditional big box chains, specialty retailers and online-only sellers, in order to measure their ability to fulfill customer orders on their last guaranteed shipping date before Christmas.