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Fulfillment Improvements Boost Holiday Ecommerce

Buy online, pick up in-store a huge success during the holidays

March 11, 2015

Ecommerce flourished within a moderately strong 2014 holiday season. eMarketer estimates that ecommerce sales grew a heady 16.0% year over year to $72.03 billion. Retail overall had more moderate success, with sales rising 3.5% to $850.58 billion. Similar growth patterns should repeat next year, when ecommerce will grow 14.4% and retail overall a moderate 3.2%, according to a new eMarketer report, “Holiday Shopping Preview.”

US Retail and Retail Ecommerce* Holiday Season Sales, 2012-2015

This past holiday season saw early manifestations of innovations in mobile commerce, fulfillment and technologies that bridge the physical-digital divide. All three will power ecommerce growth throughout 2015.

Ecommerce interacts with the physical world most often through the fulfillment network, and better fulfillment options and performance boosted ecommerce orders.

The 2014 holiday season saw a big increase in stores offering in-store pickup. It proved popular this holiday season as a way to avoid the crowds during the Thanksgiving weekend. According to Adobe, in-store pickup peaked on Black Friday and the Sunday of Thanksgiving week. Both days experienced in-store pickup 40% above average for the season. In-store pickup also spiked in the days before Christmas, as shoppers not only avoided last-minute crowds, but also expedited delivery charges or expired shipping deadlines.

Importance vs. Performance of Customer Order and Fulfillment Options According to US Retailers, Dec 2014 (% of respondents)

As attractive as it is for both retailers and shoppers, many retailers didn’t have the inventory management infrastructure necessary to provide in-store pickup during the 2014 holiday. When Retail Systems Research (RSR) asked retailers in December 2014 about the importance and performance of in-store pickup during the season, 78% listed it as an important fulfillment option, but only 46% found that it performed very well.

eMarketer expects in-store pickup to become more important this year. Research firm Edgell Knowledge Network estimated that 75% of retailers would offer in-store pickup by the end of 2015.

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “Holiday Shopping Preview.”

This report answers these key questions:

  • What happened in the 2014 holiday season?
  • What will happen in the 2015 holiday season?
  • What will be some key trends in 2015 leading up to the holiday season?

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