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The average time it took to receive an order dropped to 4.05 days, down 15% from 4.76 days a year ago, according to data gathered by e-commerce consultancy The E-tailing Group.
The average time it took to receive an order dropped to 4.05 days, down 15% from 4.76 days a year ago, according to data gathered by e-commerce consultancy The E-tailing Group. In 2007, the average ship time was 4.18 days. The E-tailing Group compiled its shipping data by ordering products from 100 e-commerce web sites that represent a cross-section of merchants selling consumer product categories online.
The time it takes to receive an order can represent a significant competitive advantage, says Lauren Freedman, E-tailing Group president. “It’s a point of differentiation,” she says.
But speeding up delivery, particularly in the wake of Amazon.com Inc.’s October announcement that it would offer same-day delivery in seven cities, is difficult for many smaller online retailers, she says. “At some point anything-including speeding up ship times-can be done for a price,” she says. “But can you recoup the volume necessary to do so? There are only so many at such a high volume that can do it.”
As a result, Freedman says online retailers need to find new ways to differentiate themselves, such as offering high-quality customer service. “For me, that can be the reason I buy from a particular site,” she says. “To me, that’s worth $5. Service is a big thing. But for a lot of people that don’t mind operating with self-service it’s not. So retailers need to figure out what their customers want.”
Another way for retailers with bricks-and-mortar stores to help customers is to allow consumers to check whether a product is in-stock at a particular location. The number offering such an option is steadily increasing. This year 29% of the stores the group mystery shopped at featured an in-store locator, up from 26% a year ago and 20% in 2007. “It’s another thing retailers can do to make the shopping experience more convenient,” says Freedman.