Remember Those Late Holiday Packages? Don’t Blame The Carrier, Blame The Retailer

We may be a few months removed from the holiday shopping season, but some of us are still stewing over the broken promise of pre-Christmas Day deliveries from online retailers. And it appears we have reason to be disappointed with those retailers now that a study has found the majority of delays were their fault, not the postal carrier.

A Kurt Salmon report on the 2014 peak-season shipping reveals that one in three packages promised for Christmas delivery didn’t make it in time.

Kurt Salmon, a global management consulting firm, found that 15% of the more than 175 online orders in the study that were guaranteed to be delivered by Christmas did not reach their destination in time. Nearly, 83% of the delays occurred with expedited one- and two-day shipments.

And while many consumers rushed to blame carriers like UPS and FedEx, more often than not the delays were the result of poor management of the fulfillment process or inventory issues.


Nearly 40% of issues stemmed from a failure to upgrade an order’s shipping status.

One retailer processed a ship-from-store order on December 19 for standard ground shipping, but the shipment was going from California to Connecticut, and the store staff failed to ensure that the shipping method would guarantee on-time delivery.

Another frequent issue occurred when the retailer turned packages over to the carrier a day late, but did not appropriately upgrade the shipment type to ensure that the parcels made it to their destinations according to the customers’ selected timetable.

Even with the highly publicized shipping issues retailers were able to, for the most part, plan and execute last-minute holiday shipping campaigns.


Successful retailers actively examined and constantly readjusted fulfillment strategies to minimize problems during peak selling periods.

“More importantly, they implicitly understand that many consumers shop later in the holiday season and that they must devote equal energy to serving these customers as they do to those who prefer to get their shopping done earlier,” the report states.

Online retailers looking to the future, specifically the 2014 holiday season, should consider fine-tuning their omnichannel strategy, management of the shipping process, carrier relationships and forecasting.

2014 Peak-Season Shipping: A Kurt Salmon Special Report [Kurt Salmon]

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