Holiday Shipping Debacle Displays Risks, Potential of Online Shopping

What happens when you promise millions of people free and guaranteed shipping at the last second?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The promises were too good to be true -- which means that for its own good, the online retail industry better improve.

    Amazon.com and others had big dreams for this Christmas season, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Amazon, for example, signed up more than a million new customers to its Prime service -- which guarantees two-day delivery.

    But with 132 million packages to deliver the week before Christmas, UPS was overwhelmed -- so some Christmas mornings, with gifts still in transit, were underwhelmed, the newspaper reported.

    This means that next year, some retailers will ask customers to pick up items bought online in stores, the newspaper reported.

    But will companies know when to say, "enough"?

    Some online retailers simply took more and more orders even as they were at capacity, the newspaper reported.