Last week, the StellaService team spotted both Pottery Barn and West Elm posting holiday shipping cutoff dates for December 24th delivery on their websites. Pottery Barn has posted its deadline for standard shipping as Monday, December 21 at 9 a.m. PST to guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve. They’re also offering a later deadline of Wednesday, December 23 at 6 p.m. PST for those last-minute shoppers willing to pay for next-day shipping.
To the average consumer it could look like jumping the gun, but Pottery Barn’s early display of cutoff dates likely indicates that their holiday preparation has been long underway.
In advance of the holiday season, retailers need to take steps to ensure that service performance is not compromised — and planning starts early. Many bring on seasonal workers in both their contact and fulfillment centers to manage the increased order volume and customer support that comes along with it. In most cases, these hires are already on board, as teams require ramp-up time to ensure that quality standards and shopper expectations are met.
In a study conducted last season, StellaService Analysts saw retailers adjust their cutoff dates throughout the month of December. Changes may be driven by demand fluctuations, warehouse staffing or strategies for auto-upgrades. Sometimes retailers will set an earlier date, only to push it later on to attract shopping stragglers and boost conversion.
Last year, analysts found prominent callouts for holiday cutoffs to be a big help, adding confidence to their shopping process. Pottery Barn has excelled in this area as well; the company’s homepage had a prominent banner listing shipping schedules for those shopping for Hanukkah and Christmas last season.
Knowing the impact great service can have on customer satisfaction and sales, retailers are constantly pushing the envelope. And while the premature Christmas banners might annoy the average consumer, it’s a sure sign that brands like Pottery Barn are taking holiday prep to the next level, setting clear expectations and committing to a high level of service during the busiest time of the year.
Nate Lozier is Marketing Manager at StellaService