Shipping delays, limited merchandise lead to lower satisfaction in online retail: ACSI

According to the latest American Consumer Satisfaction Index, all 13 measured categories of retail satisfaction fell amid the tsunami of e-commerce traffic throughout 2020.

Consumer satisfaction in the online retail industry fell during the COVID-19 pandemic, as shipping delays, limited merchandise availability and other issues dinged the sector and frustrated shoppers. 

According to the latest American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) focused on retail and consumer shipping, all 13 measured categories of satisfaction fell amid the tsunami of e-commerce traffic throughout 2020. 

Among the notable points, the ACSI report found that surging online demand strained the industry's merchandise selection and availability and inventory stocks. 

Meanwhile, package volumes exploded and consumers were forced to wait longer to receive online orders, which brought down the satisfaction score for timeliness of delivery. It is now the least-satisfying aspect of the customer experience, along with the range of delivery options. 

As for the carriers, FedEx came out in the lead despite a 3% decline in its satisfaction score, while UPS declined for a third straight year. Both companies reached record ACSI lows for 2021 so far. Satisfaction with the U.S. Postal Service, which also handled unprecedented volumes through its regular mail service in 2020, fell dramatically in the second half of the year. The drop is largely attributed to controversial cost-cutting measures instituted during the peak election and holiday seasons, which severely hampered delivery times.

Additional satisfaction categories such as overall website performance and ease of navigation both deteriorated in 2020, according to online shoppers. However, mobile apps continued to earn the highest scores in the retail sector, followed by the ease of checkout and payment. Customers are also pleased with the physical condition of packages they receive as well as the ease of order tracking.