Online sites court procrastinators with speedy shipping

Online sites court procrastinators with speedy shipping

Forget ordering online weeks in advance

ATLANTA — Forget ordering online weeks in advance or dashing out to the drug store for a gift card on Christmas Eve. Procrastinating holiday shoppers are finding a haven online as retailers ramp up expedited shipping and same-day delivery services.

Far from discouraging last-minute online shoppers, retailers are actually courting them. Amazon is offering a “Procrastinator’s Delight” special. Clothing retailer Madewell proclaims on its website that “procrastinators get the best deals” — 25 per cent off everything, with orders as late as noon Thursday for holiday deliveries.

It’s a far cry from 2013, when Amazon and package deliverers misjudged demand and delivered some holiday packages after Christmas . Since then, the Seattle company has added warehouses to be closer to customers. It has also leased jets and trucks to get packages delivered on time — even last-minute orders. Package carriers such as FedEx and UPS have also increased staffing and hired outside contractors for the holiday season.

“So many people are shopping online because it’s easier,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, chief retail strategist for the ShopTalk retail conference. “They’re waiting for last minute because nobody is encouraging them to shop earlier.”

TRUST IN RELIABILITY

If you’re an online shopper in the days leading up to Christmas and Hanukkah, be ready to forgo free shipping and shell out for expedited service. Look for sites that offer detailed shipping information. And check where the package is coming from — if it’s shipping from China or the U.K., you won’t get it in time.

But the extra cost and vigilance is worth it to those seeking to avoid the hassles of jam-packed stores, crowded parking lots and frenzied crowds.

Laura Curtis turned to expedited two-day shopping from Etsy and elsewhere when she realized she needed more gifts for her nieces and nephews.

“I’m usually way done by now,” said the writer from Mt. Kisco, New York. But she said she has faith that she’ll get her packages on time. “Our FedEx guy is really reliable.”

Although a union warned that Amazon might not be able to retain enough pilots under contract to deliver packages through its new airline shipping service, Prime Air, Amazon said it doesn’t expect any delays.

SPIRALING DEMAND, MORE SERVICES

The number of holiday packages has been rising each year as more people shop online. Research firm comScore predicts online shopping during the November and December holiday period will rise as much as 19 per cent from last year to $81 billion. That compares with an expected 3.6 per cent rise in overall shopping during the same period to $656 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group.

That means many more packages each year. UPS predicts global delivery volume during the holidays will rise 14 per cent from last year to about 700 million packages. FedEx expects volume to rise about 10 per cent.

———

Go inside UPS Worldport, the world’s largest automated package sorting facility, in this AP interactive:

http://apne.ws/2icuTyX

———

Meanwhile, the number of services for last-minute online orders keeps growing. Amazon has been expanding its Prime Now same-day delivery service, adding nine cities to reach 31 this year. It is using local delivery service providers and regular drivers as on-demand messengers. The service is catering to last-minute shoppers by offering a “Procrastinator’s Delight” program that will deliver products up until 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve. PetSmart is offering same-day delivery through startup Deliv. Uber is using its network of contract drivers for same-day delivery of goods for small businesses in New York, San Francisco and Chicago.

In addition, Amazon now lets people subscribe to its regular $99-a-year Prime program, which offers free two-day shipping, on a month-by-month basis. That means shoppers can sign up in December to take advantage of free two-day shipping and have the option of cancelling the next month.

All this could lead to a rush in last-minute online deliveries.

PRIMED FOR PROCRASTINATION

ShopTalk’s Mulpuru said she received a FedEx package in an unmarked van rather than a regular FedEx truck, a sign FedEx could be adding outside help for some deliveries. (FedEx confirmed it temporarily rents vehicles to accommodate increased package volume during the holidays.)

“This year the demand must have been really high,” she said. “It’s only going to get busier.”

Prime’s growth is estimated to be 50 per cent over last year, and most of that growth happens during the holiday season, she said.

“Consumers are getting frustrated by store shopping,” she said. “If you need something by a certain date, it becomes really easy to sign on to Amazon Prime.”

Matthew Hall, a student in Denton, Texas, plans to take advantage of his student discounted-Prime membership and pick up movies and coffee-related items for his parents online.

“Shopping online is easier than just walking up and down the aisles, thinking ‘Oh, they might like this,” he said. “If I’m online I can scroll through pages of stuff without having to worry about, ‘Oh, I should have grabbed that,”’ he said.

Expedited shipping is a must, he added.

“I’m cutting it pretty close to the wire,” he said. “I plan on doing everything two-day delivery if it’s available. If not, I’m just not going to buy that.”

TAKING A ZEN APPROACH

Favian Quesada, a graphic designer at a TV station in Tyler, Texas, plans to rely on one-day shopping on Amazon because he’s waiting until he gets paid Friday, just two days before Christmas. He said he’s confident that things will get to him on time because online delivery has gotten much better over the years.

What if packages get delayed?

“I understand it’s busy this time of year, and it’s my fault for ordering last minute,” he said. “If it doesn’t get here on time, it will get here when it gets here. Holiday is not about presents, it’s about hanging out with family.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2019, file photo, an iPhone displays the Facebook app in New Orleans. Facebook says it’s going all in to block the spread of bogus vaccine claims. In practice, that means the social network plans to ban a new bunch of false claims in addition to the old bunch of false claims about vaccines or COVID-19 that it has already banned. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)
Facebook says it will pay $1B over 3 years to news industry

Facebook says it will choose which publishers it will support

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

NDP and Liberals both promised some kind of pharmacare program

Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Art McDonald is seen during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Admiral Art McDonald has voluntarily stepped down as Chief of Defence Staff due to an investigation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Admiral Art McDonald steps aside as defence chief amid investigation

Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre appointed acting chief of the defence staff

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

Photo radar cameras are supposed to “augment” the work of regular police officers, yet 91 per cent of speeding tickets in the province are connected to the devices. (Black Press file photo).
March photo radar locations

Photo radar, mobile units and intersection cameras will be in action

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

FILE - The Paramount Pictures gate is pictured on Aug. 23, 2016, in Los Angeles. The studio is joining other major Hollywood studios in slashing the traditional 90-day theatrical window. ViacomCBS on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, announced that the studio’s films, including “Mission: Impossible 7” and “A Quiet Place Part II,” will go to its fledgling streaming service, Paramount+, after 45 days in theaters. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
‘Mission: Impossible 7’ will hit Paramount+ even sooner

90-day theatrical window reduced to 45 days

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson yells to her sweepers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Defending champion Einarson stays unbeaten in Tournament of Hearts

Players suggest a spectator-free debut made it less intimidating

Tiger Woods hits out of a bunker on the 17th hole on his way to winning the Canadian Open Championship at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont. on Sunday Sept.10, 2000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘The Tiger I know is a survivor and a fighter,’ Bill Paul weighs in on Tiger Woods

Woods was hospitalized after a single-vehicle crash near Los Angeles on Tuesday

Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich (33) makes a save on Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) as Flames' Christopher Tanev (8) and Joakim Nordstrom (20) defend during first-period NHL action in Toronto on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson yells to her sweepers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

Most Read