Online shoppers are expected to boost the UK's internet sales by 20 percent this Christmas. It is a positive response to the state of the economy, however flexible product returns and customer service will be key to consumers' demands. Deloitte said that it expects a 19 percent rise in online sales to 5 billion pounds and a 3.5 percent rise in total Christmas retail sales to 40.3 billion, with flexible delivery set to be a “key battlefield”, according to head of UK retail Ian Geddes.
Customers expect to click-and-collect
“After Online Christmas shopping to increase 20 percentlast year’s click-and-collect Christmas, consumers’ expectations around flexible delivery over the coming festive period are higher than ever before,” he said. “Store collection is now seen as a basic offering and those retailers without this capability will struggle to convert online sales and lose resulting footfall in-store.”
Deloitte said that homeware and department stores are among those expected to do well this year, with clothing stores also benefitting if the current cold weather continues.
“This year, the consumer will be challenging retailers’ ability to deliver a sofa at home in a specified time-slot; transfer a party dress to their local store for same day collection and drop off their Christmas DVDs at a convenient locker, said Geddes.”
Recent Deloitte research found that 47 percent of UK consumers think empty high street stores would make convenient collection points to pick up goods ordered online, while 36 percent would like a dedicated collection point facility such as a locker or independent store close to home or work to pick up small goods from.
“Innovators in the market continue to raise the bar, developing new fulfilment options to cater for consumers’ needs,” said Ben Perkins, head of consumer business research at Deloitte. “For example, some retailers are able to deliver within 90 minutes, whilst others are offering Sunday deliveries, drive-through pick-up points and even collection from your tube station within four hours of ordering.
“However they must balance this against the cost of delivery and recognise the infrastructure and systems that need to be in place to ensure a reliable and efficient service. Retailers are under pressure to secure sales and customer loyalty but ultimately, they need to turn a profit in the process.”