Timely delivery is a top priority for online shoppers over the holiday—often more important than discounts, several studies say.

When it comes to the holidays, forget in-law tensions and preparing elaborate soirees, consumers say they stress the most about whether the gifts they ordered online will arrive on time.

Online review community Trustpilot says it has seen a spike in one-star customer reviews with key words “shipping,” “delivery,” “late,” and “still waiting” over the month of December. “On-time delivery continues to be a huge pain point for consumers, and so we’ve seen a scramble among e-tailers to make sure their processes and third-party logistics providers are buttoned up,” a Trustpilot spokesman says.

In Trustpilot’s Consumer Behavior and Expectations: 2017 Holiday Season Report, language analysis of more than 1 million consumer reviews suggests consumer sentiment favored brands offering superior customer service and timely fulfillment over other popular holiday marketing tactics, such as discounts and flexible return policies.

During the 2016 holiday season, language analysis from October through December revealed that “price” showed up in 4% to 5% of one-star reviews and 10% of five-star reviews. The most common two-word phrases in one-star reviews were “customer service,” “days later,” and “still waiting.” The appearance rate of “delivery” in one-star reviews rose to more than 19% in December from 17% in October last year. Trustpilot says it is seeing a similar pattern this December.

Meanwhile, shipping speed is paramount, according to a report from e-commerce implementation vendor Astound Commerce.

It finds 73% of consumers always make sure a product is in stock and ready to ship when deciding which retailer they’ll shop with during the holidays. Additionally, 69% of consumers always confirm that a retailer offers guaranteed delivery and 66% always check delivery speed to make sure their products are delivered on time. Astound Commerce’s 2017 Holiday Report surveyed 2,000 U.S and Europe consumers who shop online at least four times a year and spend at least $250 annually online.

Another survey of 1,600 consumers from user experience analytics platform ContentSquare finds potential package delays are the top consumer reason for stress or frustration over the holidays, with 37% of consumers naming that as a holiday stress point.

Still, some retailers are using these last few days before Dec. 25 as a way to appeal to procrastinators.


Online retailer BeltOutlet.com sent an email Monday offering free priority shipping and delivery before Christmas for orders $50 or more. And shoe retailer Rothy’s sent a similar email Sunday offering free expedited shipping until Monday at midnight Pacific time.