Holiday Recap: Carriers and Shoppers Disagree on the Delivery Experience

Last week we shared insights gleaned from shopper feedback on how retailers performed with regards to shipping over the holiday weekend. This week we wanted to revisit this data, including the record-breaking Cyber Monday sales, to investigate how well shopper feedback aligned to carrier-reported shipping issues.

Overall, carrier-reported issues accounted for 8.15% of all shipments and negative feedback represented 8.2% of all shipments. As we reported last week, a little more than half (51%) of shopper feedback on the delivery experience was negative. The leading customer complaints were that shipments were “never delivered” (40%), followed by delays (24%) and damaged products (10%).

The most common carrier-reported issues were unsuccessful delivery attempts (41%), delays (13%) and damages (12%). Interestingly, only 32% of negative feedback was correlated to carrier-reported issues – representing a significant disconnect between carrier performance reporting and customer reported issues.


We wanted to dig a little deeper into what exactly is causing the disconnect between what a carrier reports and what a customer experiences.  What we found was eye-opening. The top 5 reasons for negative feedback when no issues were flagged are below:

  1. Missed delivery experience expectations around speed/agreed upon SLA (47%)
  2. Missing packages (15%)
  3. Concealed damage (7%)
  4. Visible damage unreported by the carrier (5%)
  5. Poor service experiences (5%)

For the 47% of shoppers who indicated disappointment related to missed SLA’s, we found the vast majority were, in fact, delivered within the standard delivery time for the chosen service. There could be two root issues causing this disconnect:

  1. Delays earlier in the order fulfillment process
  2. Ineffective communication pre-purchase around delivery speed

The key to meeting shoppers’ ever-increasing delivery experience expectations is being able to identify these issues and act to improve them. If a significant number of shoppers perceive that an item should arrive on day 2 when selecting 2-5 day shipping, we as an industry should make an effort to test ways to be more clear when we communicate these expectations up-front. Likewise if we promote 2-5 day shipping and it takes 3 days to pick, pack and schedule the shipment we should upgrade the shipping service to ensure it arrives within the committed 5 day SLA of the order.

No Attempt Feedback
Instructions Feedback

Another key point of this disconnect lies within the “attempted delivery” exception category. This is a category of exceptions that indicates the carrier tried to deliver the item but that the recipient was not available to accept the shipment. 41% of the issues we saw over the holiday had this exception identified as the cause, however, a whopping 44% of the customers who provided negative feedback on this exception complained that no attempt to deliver was actually made. Another 17% of this group used the feedback form on the tracking page to try to communicate delivery instructions to ensure they received their package during the next attempt.

As we shared last week 76% of issues in transit can be acted upon in some way to improve the experience. It’s clear there is a disconnect between what carriers report and how shoppers perceive the experience. A qualitative channel like our feedback form is an ideal way to escalate issues that are unidentifiable in any other way. We’ve found that 48.5% of all negative feedback is left prior to delivery. Retailers who can monitor feedback and prioritize serious issues have the opportunity to act to improve the experience before it’s too late.   

Stay tuned as we continue to share new insights throughout the holiday season. Want to learn more about your own organization’s delivery performance? Contact us and find out how we can help you analyze your shipping data.

For the purposes of this post we focused primarily on parcel shipments as they comprised the bulk of shipments that were initiated and completed within the time series. If you would like to learn more about how freight performed over the holidays reach out and let us know.

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About the Author

Kassidy Bird

Kassidy is a passionate marketer with a history of working with leading innovators in the eCommerce industry. Convey empowers retailers to take control of the customer delivery experience. We are leveraging data to transform customer delivery into a competitive advantage for the world’s largest retailers. Kassidy Bird on LinkedIn