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With Christmas only a few days away, many online retailers have already passed their deadline for delivery before Christmas, though some are still offering the chance for last minute shoppers to buy online in time for the big day.

So how are retailers keeping customers informed of this? Those that are still offering Christmas delivery should be making it clear to customers, as this gives them a big advantage over rivals for the next few days, and should see them picking up sales from last minute shoppers.

On the other hand, sites that cannot guarantee getting goods to customers in time for the big day should also be making this clear, to avoid frustrating shoppers who might have been expecting delivery in time for Christmas.

So how are some UK retailers handling this issue?

You can still order from Amazon with express delivery today and get goods by Christmas Eve, and the retailer has added a notice at the top right of the screen to make this clear, with a link to more information. This could have been larger and in a more prominent position though, to encourage more shoppers:

Tesco also offers delivery up to the 23rd, though not for all departments. A link to delivery information is displayed on the home page, just above the fold:

The retailer also provides a chart detailing which departments you can order from, and on which days:

However, Argos does a better job here than its two rivals, making the delivery information unmissable, while the promise of Christmas delivery if orders are placed by 12pm today is a good incentive for shoppers:

For retailers that cannot guarantee delivery in time for the big day, keeping customers informed is essential, as many will not forgive retailers for letting them down. Therefore, a notice on the homepage, or at least at some point in the basket / checkout process is vital.

HMV may disappoint a few customers this year as, though it doesn't guarantee Christmas delivery, it doesn't tell customers this on the homepage, the shopping basket page, or at any point in the ordering process. PC World also fails to inform customers on its website.

Both Marks and Spencer and John Lewis provide good examples of how it should be done, with clear notices on their homepages informing customers that last delivery dates for Xmas have passed:

Comet does the same, and also uses the opportunity to promote its collect in store service:

I think offering such last minute delivery offers a clear advantage for some retailers, as there are always plenty of people who will leave their Christmas shopping late. More important though, is managing customer expectations, which means making it clear whether or not they can expect to have their goods by Christmas Day.

Graham Charlton

Published 22 December, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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