ALMOST a third of British online shoppers had problems with the delivery of their orders in the lead-up to Christmas, a survey suggests.
Of the 31% who reported problems, 49% experienced missed deliveries or received a missed delivery card when they were at home and 45% said their orders arrived late or not at all, the YouGov poll for supply chain systems company JDA found.
The survey found 39% of Christmas shoppers used ‘click and collect’ services, with 61% of these consumers saying they wanted to avoid delivery charges and 53% citing convenience.
Of those who used click and collect, 34% said they use the service more next year, and a quarter said they specifically chose retailers who offered the option over those that only delivered to homes.
However, not all click and collect experiences were positive, with 35% of those who used it reporting problems such as long waiting times because of a lack of in-store staff (30%) and the lack of a dedicated in-store collection area (29%).
JDA said the figures showed many retailers failed to meet their customers’ expectations over the critical Christmas shopping period - in contrast with last year when just one in five consumers experienced similar problems over the year.
The Christmas period saw delivery company Yodel apologise to customers when it was forced to temporarily suspend new collections from retailers, blaming the backlog of parcels following the spending splurge on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
JDA also said retailers had struggled to cope with the two back-to-back events.
JDA retail strategy director Jason Shorrock said: “Christmas 2014 was undoubtedly the year that online shoppers saw click and collect as a viable alternative to home delivery.
“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.
“With growing numbers of consumers opting to shop with retailers that offer the option of click and collect, those that can ensure order fulfilment excellence will be ultimate winners.
“Indeed, our research shows that nearly one in five online shoppers surveyed used an alternative retailer this Christmas as a result of their preferred one not having items available or having delivery times that met their requirements.”
The study found 47% of Britons did at least half of their shopping online, with 18% of these consumers saying they ordered more off the internet than they originally planned.
Mr Shorrock said: “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.
“Retail phenomena such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have only 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.”
YouGov surveyed 2,398 adults online between December 29-30.