Are retailers and their customers confident they will meet the E-commerce distribution demand over Christmas?

The pressure on e-commerce distribution networks has never been greater. Not only has COVID-19 created lockdowns that have made consumers even more reliant on ordering online but we are now in the run up to Christmas, which is traditionally one of the business times of the year for e-commerce. So, in terms of the expectations of both customers and retailers, is there confidence that the industry will actually be able to meet the rising demand?


A shift to e-commerce spending


2020 has already seen a big emphasis on e-commerce, not just during the periods when people have been locked down but also in between when consumers have preferred to order online to avoid having to deal with social distancing etc. The convenience of delivery that comes right to your door is easy to understand. As a result, many have predicted that Q4 of 2020 would see even more of a shift towards spending online but is the infrastructure and the supply chain in place to support this?


And the research says..


Research carried out in October 2020 by Statista focused on holiday shopping behaviours and what we are likely to see during the festive season this year, as well as whether the participants felt that e-commerce distribution demand could be met. The research included both retailers and customers in multiple jurisdictions, including the US, UK and France. The responses were overwhelmingly positive from both, perhaps indicating that although there has been a lot of pressure on supply chains and delivery networks this year, these have proved to be resilient. For example, 85% of consumer respondents believed that when they made an online purchase it would arrive on time. 91% of retailers felt that they were ready to manage the increase in orders that this season could potentially generate.


Changes in behaviours


The same research also found changes in behaviours of both retailers and consumers in response to the current situation. For example, almost two thirds of retailers were planning to – or already had – outsourced supply chain support from 3PLs and transportation providers. 60% were also intending to add warehousing support to cope with the significant expected increase in transaction volumes. Among consumers the biggest disadvantage of ordering online was found to be the inability to inspect products before they were ordered. However, this wasn’t likely to deter many shoppers and only a few raised other concerns that related to issues such as damage in transit or dealing with returns. There was also some interesting insight into the way that consumers were planning to shop during the run up to Christmas this year with more than half saying that they preferred to shop online, as opposed to just 27% who would rather shop in store. For those looking to buy online, around two thirds indicated that price was the most important factor in their shopping decision making at this time of year.


E-commerce distribution looks set to rise over the Christmas period and both retailers and customers seem confident that this demand can be met.


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