The Aftermath of the Holiday eCommerce Crunch


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Has eCommerce been bitten by its own success? According to ABQJournal, this might have been the case over the holiday season. Most retailers participated in delivery promises and promotions throughout December, and businesses that provide shipping solutions saw a dramatic increase in demand. Many consumers, though, were left empty-handed and angry when Christmas arrived and their scheduled, promised deliveries had not. “It seems like the Post Office has really dropped the ball this year,” reads one complaint on eBay forums.

The Blame Game

Both shipping companies and eCommerce sites pointed fingers over who was to blame, but the culpability was likely a divide. Amazon had two million new members sign up for its Prime service that guarantees two day delivery in the week before Christmas, and many stores were still willing to accept online payments as late as the Monday before for “guaranteed” shipping. Yet services like UPS found that the logistics of moving all this merchandise quickly were impossible– they had 132 million packages that needed air shipping the week before Christmas, more than what could fit on their planes.

Limiting Constraints on Delivery

One issue becoming clear is the limits of how flexible the shipping industry can afford to be. The sorting equipment, planes, and trucks required to transport deliveries are all expensive, and after the holiday season, these items would be of little use for most of the year, adding a hefty bill to the bottom line of businesses trying to keep expenses low.

Likely Future eCommerce Solutions

Some of the changes we are likely to see from eCommerce next year as a result will likely be more encouragement from big-name retailers for customers to pick up their items at nearby stores. Others might need to learn the right balance between what they want to promise, and what they can reliably deliver given delivery industry constraints. It’s likely that some larger merchants will upgrade shipping and shift the extra cost elsewhere in order to remain competitive against other retailers.

How do you think eCommerce shopping carts will be affected next holiday season? When do you think retailers should choose to not accept online payments for Christmas gifts? Let us know in the comments.

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