How Retailers Can Out-Perform Amazon This Holiday

Thanks to COVID-19, shoppers are buying online more than ever — and that puts Amazon in prime position to dominate the holidays. Fully 6 in 10 respondents in Convey’s recent consumer survey reported they’ll shop at Amazon for gifts, far outpacing big box retailers (16%) and local merchants (8%).

Amazon’s edge is clear: Free two-day shipping is far and away the top delivery factor impacting purchase decisions, with 46% of survey respondents seeking it out. And it’s not just the “free” part of the equation that matters. More than 4 in 10 (41.5%) say they’re worried gifts won’t make it under the tree in time – a fear that’s grown 7.5% since 2019.

Amazon’s on-time reputation is strong, thanks to fast Prime deliveries that are backed by a private delivery network which now handles two-thirds of the site’s orders. But even the online giant is facing an unprecedented peak capacity crunch, and is rushing to hire another 100,000 workers to help with deliveries.

In this challenging environment, retailers can stay competitive – and furthermore, by responding to consumers’ priorities, they can out-perform Amazon when it comes to the end-to-end delivery experience. Among the ways retailers can prevail:

Message early about estimated delivery dates.

Visibility surrounding the estimated delivery date (EDD) has never been more important. Well over half of Convey survey respondents, 58%, said seeing an EDD prior to checkout made them somewhat or much more likely to buy. Crucially, those shoppers most willing to grant more delivery time due to COVID-19 were also those who most valued seeing an EDD up front, suggesting that transparency can help win this year’s coveted early shoppers.

Be agile with an expanded carrier network.

Close to 9 in 10 survey respondents said on-time delivery is important, so merchants should expand their options through regional carrier partnerships and beefed-up store fulfillment capabilities. When EDD revisions are necessary, proactive messaging to customers can help ensure expectations continue to align with last-mile reality.

Highlight painless holiday returns.

After free two-day delivery, free returns topped the list of delivery-related priorities for survey respondents, so retailers able to offer no-cost options should highlight them prominently throughout the path to purchase. Promoting convenience is important, too, especially in the era of heightened COVID precautions around returned merchandise; retailers should message the ease of returns and exchanges and make policy timelines transparent.

Promote unique touches and personal service.

Just because shoppers plan to use Amazon doesn’t mean they like it. More than 3 in 10 consumers say Amazon has had a negative impact on the retail industry overall—up 29% from before the pandemic. Retailers can capitalize on this sentiment by showcasing the personal touch, in the form of personal shopping services, expert installation and post-delivery support.

Amazon has always been a formidable competitor, and that’s more true than ever in the era of COVID-19. But by highlighting transparency, accuracy, and personal service as part of the delivery experience, retailers can win sales and earn customer satisfaction during the holidays and beyond.

About the Author


Convey is an agile team of supply chain and technology professionals. Bringing entirely new data intelligence and real-time visibility, Convey helps companies maintain a strong brand with their customers and unlocks true growth potential. Convey on LinkedIn