In the post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping mayhem this year, Cyber Monday sales reached $2 billion. Amid record demand, many retailers proved that they were up to the task of getting completed orders into shoppers’ hands in a timely manner. Ten retailers earned spots on the Kurt Salmon Santa’s Good List for Holiday Shipping for speedily delivering multi-unit Cyber Monday orders in an average of 2.6 days, more than twice as fast as the average retailer Cyber Monday fulfillment time of 5.7 days.

In order to uncover which retailers are excelling at peak season fulfillment, Kurt Salmon analyzed shipping times for orders placed on Cyber Monday from 59 retailers across a broad range of categories, including traditional big boxes, department stores, specialty retailers and online-only e-tailers.

Santa’s Good List for Holiday Shipping:
  • Delivered in 1 Day: Google
  • Delivered in 2 Days: Net-A-Porter, Walgreens
  • Delivered in 3 Days: Amazon, Barneys New York, Cabela’s, Nike, Staples, TOMS, Under Armour

Google tops the list for the first time this year, while Net-A-Porter and Barneys New York are repeat winners. Cyber Monday fulfillment times put retailers on track to deliver against their holiday season goals of speeding up holiday fulfillment by two days to 6.1 days this year.

“Retailers who fulfilled Cyber Monday orders in three days or less are clearly firing on all cylinders,” said Steve Osburn, retail strategist at Kurt Salmon. “So far this holiday season, consumers are benefiting from retailers’ accurate forecasts; improved alignment between merchandising, marketing and distribution; and better inventory visibility.”

(Jingle) Bells and Whistles for Fulfillment

Amid a flurry of sales, free shipping is increasingly becoming table stakes for shopping cart conversion. This year, 78% of retailers offered free shipping on Cyber Monday, up from 70% in 2013. Not all free shipping offers were created equally, however: 51% of retailers offered free shipping on all orders, whereas 49% required that consumers’ shopping carts hit a spending threshold to qualify.

In addition, retailers are adopting new fulfillment methods, including buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPUS), as part of their omnichannel strategy. This year, 37% of retailers offered BOPUS as an option for select products on Cyber Monday. Best Buy and Lowe’s, for example, had orders ready within one hour for pick-up, an ideal offering for busy shoppers who needed holiday gifts fast. Same day delivery options were giving Santa a run for his money, promising to deliver purchases in less than a day. With industry leaders such as Google and Amazon investing in their same-day delivery capabilities in addition to start-ups like Deliv, retailer offerings and consumer adoption are likely to follow suit. More retailers are also leveraging ship-from-store capabilities to fulfill orders, but in some cases, this may have contributed to delays in multi-item order fulfillment and inventory challenges.

Some Turbulence for Santa’s Sleigh

While retailers were largely able to keep pace with the uptick in orders, Santa’s sleigh did hit some turbulence. During high demand on Cyber Monday, 16% of retailers Kurt Salmon analyzed had website issues, including crashes, during check-out. Best Buy’s Black Friday crash was a good sign of consumer demand, but issues with site functionality can frustrate shoppers, and, in a competitive season, site challenges can lead to missed sales opportunities. In addition, inventory was an issue, with close to 15% of retailers identifying out-of-stock items at checkout. Overall, 34% of retailers were unable to complete the multi-item orders within two weeks of Cyber Monday, up from 2013 (25%). In most cases, it was one or two high-demand items in the order that proved problematic.

“While we saw a few hiccups in Cyber Monday fulfillment, retailers responded well to significant sales spikes,” said Osburn. “This bodes well for last-minute e-commerce orders, but there are always variables. Last year, 15% of last minute orders did not reach their destination in time, and despite retailers’ adjustments, consumers would be wise to give themselves a buffer or upgrade delivery options when placing orders over the next week.”

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