After making my most recent order online, I was surprised to receive just half of the batch, with an invoice explaining that only a portion had been available, so it had been shipped early as a courtesy, at no charge. The rest came a day or two later.
I give Amazon props for its attempt at good customer service, for which one of the mantras is probably "Faster is always better," words you might find printed on a poster beneath an inspirational photograph of a lithe cheetah charging through the African plains after an adolescent antelope.
Thing is, I didn't ask for express delivery. I accepted the free, standard shipping with the understanding -- actually, the expectation -- that everything would ship at once, even if it meant waiting a little more time. Had there been an option on the Web site where I could insist that all the items ship at once -- so long as they'd arrive within, say, two weeks -- I'd have checked it. On the back end, Amazon's supply-chain and order processing systems could have taken that into account and handled my shipment accordingly. In turn, that would have saved Amazon on extra packaging and shipping, which translates to more money for the company, not to mention a smaller carbon footprint.
Thus, my third holiday wish for retailers: Give customers more eco-friendly shipping options, ideally based on real-time supply-chain data that indicates when an order will arrive in its entirety, and pass along the cost savings you enjoy from using one box instead of two or three or whatever. This service needn't come at the cost of shoddy customer service, of course. If an order ends up being delayed because one or more items aren't available, you can notify the customer via e-mail to see how to progress.