Marks and Spencer has been forced to extend the delivery times for online orders in the critical shopping period leading up to Christmas.
On its website, the retailer is telling customers that standard deliveries for orders to be sent to the home will take up to 10 days, double the usual length of time.
Online orders sent to the store for free click and collect will be delivered more quickly - in four days - however this is also an extension. Normally, click and collect orders can be available to collect the next day.
All online orders, whether sent to Marks and Spencer stores or to directly to customers, are sent from the retailer’s highly automated national distribution centre (NDC) in Castle Donington, Leicester. When the distribution centre opened last year, it was beset with major IT supply chain problems.
A spokesperson for Marks and Spencer said that the backlog was being caused by the popularity of a “planned” four-day promotion during the Black Friday weekend to Cyber Monday, which generated a high level of demand. He declined to reveal any figures about how many orders were placed during the period.
The delivery time estimates are being “reviewed hourly”, the spokesperson added. Customers can still choose to have orders delivered the next day, at a higher cost.
Click and collect is an important channel for retailers to connect their online and bricks-and-mortar stores, as they strive to create an omnichannel experience for customers. It requires a highly optimised and efficient supply chain, but linking online store inventory and supply chain systems is a known challenge for retailers.
Many retailers are aiming to have orders available to collect from their stores the next day if they order before a certain time. For example, John Lewis promises to have orders made before 8pm to be available to collect from stores after 2pm the next day. Meanwhile, Argos customers can reserve items to be collected in store immediately, if the item is in stock.
Image credit: Marks and Spencer