The most important factor of online holiday shopping is...

When it comes to the online shopping experience, delivery trumps everything.

That's according to a new survey by active delivery management platform Convey in which 40% of consumers report that delivery is the single most decisive factor of the shopping experience. Asked to choose the most important delivery factor during the holiday season, 29% of respondents prefer a specific promise date, and 23% select a delivery date range, bested only by cost at 33%.

In addition, shoppers expect retailers to make a commitment and keep it.

“In our recent survey, shoppers were clear: While free and fast shipping are still table stakes, promise-by dates and the way a retailer handles on-going issues are equally important," said Rob Taylor, CEO at Convey. "With half of all shoppers experiencing at least one issue per year, retailers must take an active role to control the outcome of deliveries during the busy holiday season.”

The survey found that more than 95% of shoppers expect retailers to proactively respond if a carrier’s estimated delivery date changes while a shipment is in transit, and more than 90% expect some form of action or compensation for missed promise-by dates.

Preferred responses to a missed promise date include: refund of shipping costs (50%), discount for a future purchase (19%), expedited shipping for a replacement product (10%), and expedited shipping for a future purchase (10%).

In other findings:

• Nearly all (93%) shoppers expect to receive proactive shipment updates. When a delivery exception occurs, 41% of shoppers want to be notified immediately, preferring e-mail notifications (50%) to SMS (21%), phone calls (12%), tracking page updates (8%), and Facebook notifications (1%). Only 7% prefer no contact at all.

• Nearly all (97.5%) shoppers want to self-serve or interact with a retailer directly to resolve delivery issues, with those aged 18-34 being 35% more likely to prefer options such as pick-up lockers and holding a shipment at a terminal.