Delivery-Related Concerns Are the Biggest Source of Consumer Stress This Holiday Season

A quarter of shoppers report that their most dominant feeling about the upcoming holiday shopping season is stress, according to new data from e-commerce platform Scalefast. For retailers, this means that providing clarity and transparency where possible – particularly around the delivery process – is critical for winning customers.

Scalefast surveyed over 1,000 adults who shop during the holidays on September 14–15, to assess consumer sentiment around the holidays. Of the respondents, 25% said that “stressed” best described their feelings about the upcoming season, while 22% plan to actively avoid the busier shopping days, such as Black Friday and Christmas Eve.

The sources of stress varied for different shoppers, with 25% reporting that they were stressed or anticipated being stressed about being able to afford their holiday gifts; 30% plan to spend less than in 2019. Safety was also a concern for 20% as they contemplate returning to physical stores, specifically in regard to store cleanliness and the COVID-19 response.

“Understandably, many consumers are heading into retail’s most critical shopping season feeling overwhelmed,” said Olivier Schott, founder and CMO of Scalefast. “Supply chain issues over the past few months have disrupted the entire purchasing experience and likely pushed consumers to start shopping earlier than last year.”

But delivery-related issues were the most common cause for concern – and not just concern, but potential abandonment of a retailer altogether. While 42% of consumers would stop buying from a brand due to no or discontinued free shipping, 29% would ditch because of long delivery windows and 21% wouldn’t buy from a brand that offered no or limited delivery tracking.

Fortunately for brands, the survey also provided a prescription for resolving these concerns. Nearly half of consumers (45%) reported that a guaranteed delivery date feature would reduce their purchasing stress. Those able to offer same-day delivery would assure 22% of shoppers. Free shipping is also expected to have a big impact, as the survey found that over a third of shoppers care more about affordability than they do about the brand.

“Along with the current unreliability of USPS and other carriers and safety issues stemming from the pandemic, brands and retailers have very little time to ensure there is a robust plan in place for tackling the holiday-hold ups that stop a consumer from making a purchase,” said Schott. “Our research shows the prescription for easing the anxiety hinges on excellent communication supported by e-commerce platforms that update product availability, shipping and delivery in real time.”

While it is difficult for retailers to improve the speed of their shipments, due to the current strain on logistics, recent studies have consistently shown that transparency ranks as more important to shoppers than speed. By communicating accurate delivery estimation windows, retailers can set appropriate expectations and foster trust from their consumers.

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