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How Zappos Saved Christmas When A Third Of Retailers Screwed Up Delivery

Dec 27 2013, 7:16am CST | by

How Zappos Saved Christmas When A Third Of Retailers Screwed Up Delivery
Photo Credit: Forbes

Zappos founder Tony Hsieh’s famous obsession with customer service paid off this holiday season. The Amazon-owned online shoe emporium came out on top in a Christmas delivery stress test performed by StellaService, a Nielsen-like ratings firm for internet shopping.

StellaService’s team of mystery shoppers set out to see which of the top online retailers met their promise of getting gifts under Christmas trees as long as orders were placed by their cut-off date.

The New York-based startup (and Google collaborator) placed three identical orders with each of the 25 largest online stores, to be delivered in three separate U.S. regions: East, West and Midwest.

Of those 25 retailers, eight (32%) failed to deliver by Christmas in at least one of the three regions. Of all 75 orders StellaService placed, 12% missed the delivery estimate altogether.

Interestingly, all but one of these orders were shipped using UPS, which is the preferred carrier for most of the top 25 online shops.

So, how did Zappos win the day? The Las Vegas-based outfit, now the world’s largest online shoe store, provided customers with the latest cutoff, December 23rd, and successfully delivered by Christmas in all three parts of the country.

Nordstrom and Staples also listed December 23rd as their cutoff date, but both missed their delivery deadline in at least one of the three tested regions.

Other success stories included Apple and Pottery Barn, both of which extended their standard shipping times to allow shoppers a larger window to order gifts. Apple extended by a full day, with Pottery Barn moving its deadline from earlier in the day to midnight.

Notable failures included QVC, which didn’t specify a Christmas cutoff, forcing online shoppers to place orders by December 13th, much earlier than other sites. Electronics store Tiger Direct provided conflicting information on their site, according to StellaService, changing their cutoff date from the 20th to the 18th, then back to the 20th.

Here are the full results of StellaService’s Christmas delivery stress-test:

Read more about StellaService’s data in Forbes’ magazine profile of the startup, here.  

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Source: Forbes

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