December 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Fulfillment, site performance remain strong, says Keynote’s latest report

While taking two days longer than last year to deliver purchases, online retailers are delivering on time and beating their own expectations, says the latest weekly report from Keynote Systems. Sites continue to respond well, Keynote says.

Fulfillment of online orders is pretty much going without glitches this year, says the latest weekly fulfillment and performance report for online retailers from Keynote Systems Inc. Keynote reports, however, that retailers are taking on average two days longer to deliver items than they took last year, taking just over 6 days this year vs. 4 days last year.

For three weeks in a row, Keynote has not found any major fulfillment problems and, in fact, reports that delivery time has exceeded promises by 47%--meaning that the average package arrived 47% faster than the average promised delivery time.

Retailers appear to be setting very conservative delivery expectations this year, Keynote says. Best Buy this week delivered 72% faster than promised to customers; Kmart Corp.’s delivered 68% faster. So far, all 20 retailers tracked by Keynote were able to deliver orders by the time they stated to customers.

At the same time that delivery has been holding steady, web site responsiveness has slowed down, Keynote reports. Using an automated system, Keynote tracks the time it takes for an online customer to move through the number of pages required by the site to search for an item.

The average transaction time has slowed to 8.83 seconds from 8.29 seconds before Thanksgiving. Response time has been at about that level since Thanksgiving-8.82 seconds the week ending Dec. 1 and 8.81 seconds the week ending Dec. 8.

Keynote says Victoria’s Secret had the slowest transaction average last week at 14.74 seconds. It also had the slowest average the previous week at 13.23 seconds. J.C.Penney continues in the #1 position with the fastest transaction performance four weeks in a row, last week at 3.64 seconds.

Site availability remained strong last week, Keynote says, with an average of 98.6%. Pacific Sunwear’s site delivered 100% availability. Micro Warehouses’s site availability fell to 84.2% from 90% and Urban Outfitters was 90.7%, consistent with tests all season, Keynote says. CompUSA`s availability improved to 96.9% for the first time since the beginning of November; it had consistently been at about 90%.

The fastest web sites for consumers logging on were:
- Gap: 0.45 seconds
- 0.61 seconds
- Victoria`s Secret: 0.80 seconds
- Outpost: 0.98 seconds

In addition to delivery performance, which is most relevant to shoppers, Keynote is also tracking shipping performance. The average retailer has been shipping orders in 2.2 days -- 34% faster than the expectations they set at the time of checkout, which averages 3.3 days, but 54% slower than last year. Retailers this year are taking 2.28 days to ship compared to 1.5 days on average last year at this time.


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