LONDON: UK consumers are increasingly confident about the delivery of online shopping, with almost half saying they will order Christmas gifts with less than a week to go, but they will hold retailers to blame if the goods do not arrive.

These findings emerged from the latest eCustomerServiceIndex results from eDigitalResearch and online retail association body IMRG. In 2013, 34% of online shoppers were willing to risk placing an order online with less than a week to go until Christmas Day, but this figure has now risen to 47%. The 13 point rise in 12 months indicates how consumer expectations of delivery have changed in a short period.

In particular, 53% said they would feel comfortable in placing an online order as late as Wednesday 17th December, while 32% were prepared to push the date to Saturday 20th in the full expectation of receiving their items before Christmas Day.

The survey results, said Derek Eccleston, commercial director at eDigitalResearch, emphasised the need for retailers and couriers to have a comprehensive logistics strategy in place. "Year after year, we've seen retailers increasing push their last ordering dates closer to Christmas Day itself and it's important for retailers to ensure that they see through on these promises," he said.

In the past, 18% of consumers surveyed reported that online gift orders had failed to arrive in time. Of these, 41% placed the responsibility on the retailers, while couriers and the Royal Mail each attracted the ire of 14%.

Ecclestone noted that it was vital to deal with such circumstances appropriately and cited the example of Appliances Online which provides takeaway dinners to customers if an oven delivery fails to appear on time.

"Properly managing situations and responding promptly when things do go wrong with deliveries … will be key for retailers in ensuring that consumers are not left frustrated and disappointed this Christmas," he said.

Data sourced from eDigitalResearch; additional content by Warc staff