Dec. 20 (NEW YORK) -- It’s no secret that competition for online shoppers is fierce this holiday season, and consumers increasingly expect shipping to be both fast and free. Amid an unprecedented number of online orders on Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season, retailers are facing a bigger challenge than ever when it comes to fulfillment.

In this environment, data on multi-unit order fulfillment and shipping times collected by Kurt Salmon uncovers which retailers are on “Santa’s Good List” for holiday shipping. The study analyzed shipping times for orders placed on Cyber Monday from over 50 retailers across a broad range of categories, including traditional big boxes, specialty retailers and online-only e-tailers. Retailers that ranked at the top of the list pulled out all the stops to offer fast and free shipping and deliver an exceptional customer experience despite the increased order volume.

Top Five Companies for Holiday Shipping:
  • Zappos: 1 day
  • Barneys New York: 3 days
  • NET-A-PORTER: 3 days
  • Costco: 3.3 days
  • Neiman Marcus: 4.4 days
What the Top Five are Doing Right:
  • Fast. Retailers in the top five delivered multi-unit orders in the shortest time frame, an average of 2.9 days. This was less than half the average fulfillment time of 6.2 days achieved by retailers in the analysis. Premium brands, in particular, excelled in speed of delivery during peak times. In comparison to Cyber Monday, off-peak average fulfillment time was quicker, coming in at 5.3 days. According to Michelle Bogan, partner in Kurt Salmon’s Retail and Consumer Products Group: “The slower fulfillment time for Cyber Monday orders in the overall study indicates that many retailers forecasted less demand, perhaps due to slow economic growth. But e-commerce continues to boom as free shipping and guaranteed product availability increase the convenience factor. Retailers at the top of their game for fulfillment will adjust forecasts, retrain or increase staff in distribution centers and be better prepared for later peak order times.”
  • Free. Most retailers (70% percent) in the study offered free shipping with Cyber Monday orders, a feature that has become ubiquitous—particularly during the holiday season—to compete effectively and avoid shopping cart abandonment. While many retailers tout free shipping for a limited time, or once orders reach a certain price threshold, top retailers including Zappos, NET-A-PORTER, and more recently Neiman Marcus, offer it as a feature for all online orders. 

  • Focus on Presentation. During peak season, the top fulfillment retailers remain focused on quality in addition to speed. Orders from Neiman Marcus, for example, are wrapped in tissue paper, and Zappos orders come with a handwritten “thank you” regardless of the season. 

“When looking at online shipping data, it’s obvious that retailers are pushing an omnichannel strategy—and for good reason,” notes Bogan. “A clear pattern is emerging where consumers are still heading to the stores over Thanksgiving weekend for the experience and deals, but are increasingly supplementing or finishing their shopping online and on mobile devices. It’s more important than ever that brands offer a seamless experience across all channels to hold shoppers’ attention and complete the transaction.”

Kurt Salmon in partnership with StellaService will publish the full results of their fulfillment analysis, including single-unit orders, in the first quarter of 2014.



For more information, or to arrange an interview with Michelle Bogan, please email