Monday, January 04, 2016

Online Shopping for the Holidays: My Review

The holidays are over...and so is my experiment into doing as much of my Christmas shopping online as possible.



Overall, it went very well. But keep in mind that I started on Black Friday and the bulk of my shopping was done by December 9. That gave plenty of time for slow-pokey packages to finally make their way to me.



But for future reference, I tracked the performance of different businesses and decided to share what I learned with you. You probably will find that you agree with a lot of these. First, the biggest winner...



This one will be a real surprise (*said sarcastically*)...



All the way up until the week of Christmas, you could order items and they'd show up to your house in two days. I was ordering mostly non-Christmasy things by the end, but I was amazed at how well Amazon did at getting things here on time...as long as you chose things that promised two-day delivery, that is. That brings me to my next winner:


Yes, the postal service. I take back everything I previously said about USPS because this year I learned the difference between big-city USPS and small-town USPS. In a small town, the post office ROCKS! Our mail carrier packed his little car to the brim every day and brought our packages to the front door. Then his boss would come and deliver what his car couldn't hold later that day. Chevy Chase got small-town mail delivery all wrong!



That, sadly, brings me to the losers. This year's biggest loser?



Okay, so I get that you don't have your act together to get packages to people when you say you will. But FedEx, your online tracker was broken with every package I tried to look up. Coincidence? Then I saw on the news that FedEx had trouble delivering this holiday season and I knew...something wasn't right. The post office is kicking FedEx's butt at delivery?



Time for a second loser. This one goes to the company who took for-freakin'-ever just to put my items in the mail after ordering them. It's Christmas. Let's get to steppin', people.



Kohl's mostly won the whole "holiday sales" game, but they end up on my bad list for letting me know on December 7th that an item I ordered on November 27th (Black Friday) was "no longer available." After ten days, I was thinking, "What? You haven't shipped that already? Really?" And then I wondered if the item was out of stock on November 27th or they just gave the item to someone else in the ten days they were sitting on my order. All else was great, including their incredible deals, but for shipping speed, this company gets a big fat, "Bad job."



The biggest loser of all, though? Gift wrapping! Because no matter how much time and aggravation you save by shopping online, you still find yourself standing there, holding a roll of gift wrap while staring at this:


Who were your business winners and losers this Christmas season?

73 comments:

  1. We're still waiting on a Bed Bath and Beyond order.
    Think Geek was also quick this year.
    Shopping online is still better than going to the actual store.
    And I finished my shopping before December began.

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    1. Yeah, I'm not sure if BB&B just didn't have their act together this year or if they never do at Christmastime. Maybe they use FedEx and it's FedEx's fault? I probably will skip BB&B next year or do "ship to store." It's mostly about trust and once they've let you down one year, you tend to go with a company you know will deliver on time the next.

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  2. I did everything in person, and was surprised that Kohl's no longer offers boxes when you purchase from their store. Yikes! Also, I didn't have any probs with the regular post office and they were kind as always. Not surprised that such a large operation like Amazon got it right, and I heard the news about Fed Ex which surprised me. Great post and Happy New Year!

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    1. My husband said that about Kohl's. Very surprising! Victoria's Secret loaded him down with boxes, although I guess with such overpriced items, that's no surprise! But I would have expected VS to say "no, we don't offer boxes" and Kohl's to be asking if they could take them out to his car for him!

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  3. No Christmas shopping for me so I was spared all the waiting and stress. Christmas was very simple for me because my boys were not home due to work commitment. So I get to relax.

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  4. We have here amazon.in.
    I bought so many things recently from amazon. I think they are the winners here too. amazon.in has their own delivery service here, it is really great !Some items got delivered by Indian speed post, they too are extremely efficient. I bought many books, a pocket LED torch among other things recently.

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    1. That's the smart thing Amazon does--they put distribution centers everywhere to be able to get items to customers quickly.

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  5. I only ordered one gift online from Lenox and it arrived in a timely fashion. My daughter ordered countless things from Amazon and the doorbell was ringing everyday, they all arrived quickly. She got a new Mac for Christmas from her husband and he said he was sure it was going to cost him a lot more than the original price because now she could see more things a lot bigger on Amazon than on her smart phone. :)

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    1. Yes, they say smartphone shopping is on the rise, but I can't picture trying to shop on that tiny screen!

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  6. Yeah, wrapping is a problem, but since they all come in boxes, it's a lot easier to wrap! Have a wonderful New Year!

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    1. Good point! Except when they combine multiple gifts in one box and you have to separate it out!

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  7. Really surprised by FedEx. I mostly use Amazon in the UK because I have prime, so can't offer much on other companies in London.

    Since we send most of our gifts overseas, we usually send gift cards and such. I had to wrap a gift this year, and it's been so long I had to stop and think how to tie a bow.

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    1. I still don't know how to tie a bow. I got tired of bows falling off my packages, so I didn't even put the stick-on kind on my gifts this year.

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  8. I reckon they're bored in small town postal services and thus go out often to deliver to collect latest gossips and who know what else not :) You know, the postman always rings twice....

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    1. Haha, well, ours doesn't really stop to gossip, but he's a guy! He is super nice, though.

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  9. I always go to our local post office and I never have a problem. This year I only shopped through Amazon and received the items rather quickly. I live 2 minutes from Kohls so I like to touch and feel my purchases...that sounded weird. Hahaaa...

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    1. Yeah, Nashville's post offices were spotty. Mostly they just didn't care. They were bad about leaving "Sorry we missed you" notes in the community mailboxes rather than bringing the packages a few driveways down to our door...we work from home, so it was annoying. I'd have to make a special trip to the post office and stand in line and I'd get SO mad. Here they bring packages right to our front porch, even though it would be easier to leave them by our side door, where the driveway is.

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  10. Amazon rocked!! I totally used them for everything this year!

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    1. I think they're making everyone else look bad...they're raising customer expectations and companies like Bed Bath & Beyond are going to suffer if they don't figure out how to get packages in the mail faster. They shouldn't wait a full week after you place the order to even get it started coming to you. That's ridiculous! So next year I'll buy elsewhere, based solely on the problems I had this year with their shipping speed.

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  11. Thanks for working so hard to keep us in the know Stephanie. I really appreciate all the research you do for us.

    My daughter lives in Glasgow Scotland and she orders from Amazon regularly and it arrives the next day. Now that's fast service...
    Hugs,
    JB

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    1. Hey, if it's research, can I tax deduct the cost of the shopping I do? :-) If Amazon Prime Now is in your area, you can have groceries delivered to your door in two hours for no delivery charge. We don't have it here--but I can't imagine going online and buying toilet paper and having it show up on your porch two hours later!

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  12. Thanks for these tips, I have had great experience with Amazon and the post office as well. I actually find gift wrapping easy!

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    1. There is something relaxing about it...but I tend to put it off. Then once I get started, I keep going until it's all done!

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  13. Big winner is definitely Amazon! I'm their biggest fan. Big, big loser: Best Buy. I ordered a computer package on line because I wanted it loaded with Windows 7 instead of Windows 8. (Let's not talk about Windows 10.) It arrived late, without the software installed. After several calls and a trip to Best Buy, lugging the computer, to get the software installed I was told they could install it, but I would have to pay for the software. After explaining to three different people the software was already paid for in the package price, I was told I would have to ship it back to Best Buy to get the install done. WHAT?! This was on December 22nd! I shipped it back. Guess what? I'm still waiting for my refund (so I can go buy a Mac). I refuse to pay a "restock" fee for their mistake. Best Buy is "looking into the matter." Next time I need something I WILL NOT be going to Best Buy--ever.

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    1. UGH! That's ridiculous. And they were really working hard to compete with Amazon this year. Sounds like they don't have their act together when it comes to computers. What about all the ship-to-store stuff? The store can't ship stuff back? That's ridiculous!

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  14. Thanks so much for sharing your views and findings, Stephanie. I don't shop online but a good friend of mine does and she always uses Amazon and Canada Post.

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  15. BTW--we are on a first name basis with our postman. He is great! Even gave him a card and small gift. (Don't worry Uncle Sam. It was all ethical. Under $20 and of little intrinsic value.)

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    1. We gave ours a gift card, too--and he put a thank-you card in our mailbox late last week, which was nice!

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  16. Amazon was good here in the UK too. I bought some things from Ebay and was pleased that the sellers went out of their way to get things in the post as soon as possible too. I did leave them good feedback to let them know I appreciated it.

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    1. That's especially challenging for eBay sellers since many of them aren't businesses but individuals. Glad to hear they did a good job!

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  17. I’ve been doing my Christmas shopping online for a few years now. I always tend to do shopping at least two weeks before Christmas and around pay day. That way there’s plenty of time for items to be delivered without worrying about going over budget. And as you’ve stated already, Amazon was the best when it comes to delivery. Purchased gifts on Amazon and Barnes and Noble around the same time. I didn’t choose two day delivery on Amazon, yet they delivered within a week after I ordered. Barnes and Noble didn’t deliver until almost 2-3 days before Christmas. Cutting it close.

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    1. I started on Black Friday--way early! I should say that the packages that took forever were still here well in advance. I just got annoyed, especially with FedEx's refusal to provide tracking information. At least tell me where my stuff is!

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  18. I'm an Amazon Prime member so I always try to shop there for prime items and free shipping. I didn't have any losers this year. Everything I ordered showed up on time or two days early.

    I also agree about the small post offices. We have a great post office in our small town.

    I have never been a FedEx fan. UPS rocks, but FedEx not so much.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. This was my first experience with FedEx and I can say I'll avoid them when I can. You don't always know how a business is shipping to you, though. I think the post office is really working hard to honor its partnership with Amazon.

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  19. I have to admit, I do the bulk of my online shopping at Amazon. With Amazon Prime, I get most items quickly. As for my loser, it would be teefury, a place I buy a lot of cool nerd T-shirts from. Typically, a week after the purchase the status is always "processing".

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    1. Ugh! I hate that!!! Tell me something, people!

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  20. I didn't shop this Christmas. Sent money to the grandkids. Who knows what teens like? Not me because I seldom see them. I sent the sons Christmas cards.

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    1. That seems to be the case all too often with teens, doesn't it? We loaded my stepdaughter down with gift cards because that's what she wants.

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  21. I definitely agree with your list. I was equally impressed with Amazon this year (as well as all other years I've been shopping online). I didn't think there was any way possible for my grand daughter's book to arrive before Christmas and I was absolutely shocked because it was one of those gifts that had to be produced. It was a book published by the folks at Put Me In Your Story

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  22. I was so upset at FedEx. It ended up being fine because the thing I ordered showed up on Christmas Eve, but they didn't notify me there had been a delay, and their system was down so I had no idea if my package had been delivered and stolen or if it was still sitting in a warehouse somewhere.

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  23. FedEx was the only one I had a problem with too! They told me a package was arriving that day and then it was changed to pending for about a week! What? I did finally get it, but come on.

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  24. I mostly depend on Amazon Prime to get my packages to me. The big losers on Amazon, however, were the sellers who hid the fact that they were shipping from China.

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  25. My best delivery story of the season? I ordered 4 books from a publisher, and they shipped me a box of 35 books--all different titles and genres. For a moment, I thought I was in heaven...then I realized I didn't order these. After calling distribution company, I was told new packers were the culprit! But it took 3 calls to UPS before they picked up the wayward box...

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  26. I love everything about this post! I have to agree that Amazon is the winner, I remember receiving items a day before their due date! Too, for someone who lives in a small town herself, the USPS carriers rock! I can always rely on these two services, I'm not so sure about the rest - again, great post!

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  27. What an interesting post! I definitely saw the USPS doing a great job this year. Amazon also got packages sent in a timely manner. I didn't try all package options out there- but I do like to hear what people I know think because it helps me make future decisions. :)

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  28. Amazon worked for me.
    As always, excellent post, Steph.

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  29. I have never ordered on-line. I just don't trust it. I actually go to the store and buy the old-fashioned way. There is a book store here called The Book Depot(you can order online with them). I found a book there that was a Chapters a year ago being sold for $45.00. I got it for $8.00! It is a great place and busy which makes me happy!

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  30. I have always been pleased with Amazon's shipping here in Canada. It is fast and cheaper than a lot of places (in Canada over $25 is free). I don't do much Christmas shopping (and what I do, I do all year), so it is interesting to read.

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  31. My Christmas gifts were all regifted white elephant items. My family has been doing one of these for about 20 years now, so we would not have to buy a present for every single family member. And this year I went to three other Christmas parties which did the white elephant thing. One was my book club, so I regifted some books I'd already read. Because of all this, I was able to avoid the stores altogether.

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  32. USPS was a bit strange this year. I'm on the other end--shipping to customers from my little online shop. Things got there on time, but a couple items took a looong time to get to their destination.

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  33. No surprises here for me. I, too, shopped completely on-line. Amazon was great, UPS and USPS were great. We have a smalltown carrier who also had a second truck come along to deliver even on Sundays b/c they hired seasonal help. I don't have a loser. Most people were good enough to pick items that were easy to box and wrap. :)

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  34. Isn't amazon the master? And when I have a problem, which is rarely, they take care of it without question.

    This season, my biggest loser was Bass and Pro Shop. Their site was a nightmare- it kept crashing- and I'm still waiting on a package I ordered on Black Friday. Those back order gifts will probably be Valentine's Day gifts.

    Love online shopping. 95% of my shopping was done online. I watched football on Black Friday rather than fighting crowds.

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  35. I ordered several things from B&N, and it all came in a timely manner. But I ordered a cardigan from Zulilly on Dec. 9th, and didn't get it until after Christmas. =/ When they said it'd be in by Christmas Eve.

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  36. I ordered several things from B&N, and it all came in a timely manner. But I ordered a cardigan from Zulilly on Dec. 9th, and didn't get it until after Christmas. =/ When they said it'd be in by Christmas Eve.

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  37. Very interesting. That doesn't look too good for Kohl's or FedEx. I did some online shopping this year too. I ordered from Etsy for an out of state friend, and they didn't seem to have a quick shipping option, so I blame myself that her gift was late for Christmas. Her package to me, sent through the mail, came sooner than she expected.

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  38. Amazon always wins in my experience with online shopping.

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  39. To be fair, weather has never been a friend to holiday deliveries. But yes, it's Amazon all the way for me:-) Your terrific post covered everything except procrastination, an affliction for which I wish someone would develop an app!

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  40. Amazon has absolutely saved my butt many a Christmas :) and I love USPS, even when it gets crazy due to Montana winters. It's always better than the other carriers in my book :)

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  41. Love that first meme.
    Hope your day has been pleasant and productive.

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  42. I'm not an Amazon fan, but you've got to admit they deliver on their promises.

    Here's wishing you a lovely New Year, Stephanie, and a lot of blog love going forward ;)

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  43. Amazon usually is amazing! And my post office system works really well too which makes me quite happy :D But now that you have done all that online shopping, in the future you will know the best places to got to! Although the one that canceled after sitting on the order for ten days? DD: Terrible~

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  44. My winners are also Amazon and USPS. I did most of my shopping Thanksgiving week.

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  45. I don't recall if it was FedEx or UPS one of them delivered my husbands order to the house next door. He had been expecting to have it delivered and when we got home and it wasn't here he went on line to check on it. It said it had been delivered, left at garage door. We don't have a garage....lol
    Kohl's did the same thing to my daughter, sent all but one item and then days later told her it was out of stock

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  46. The post office is actually not a surprise. The decided to team up with Amazon early 2015, which not only helped their bottom line, but allowed them to streamline their processes for delivering.

    I Are Writer!

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  47. I had the same problem with FedEx last year. Didn't use them this year. UPS is so much more pricey than the USPS and I have had great success with them every year. Oh Kohls, the coupons are great the costumer service is terrible!

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  48. I had the same problem with FedEx last year. Didn't use them this year. UPS is so much more pricey than the USPS and I have had great success with them every year. Oh Kohls, the coupons are great the costumer service is terrible!

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  49. SO smart--doing all your shopping a month ahead of time and taking advantage of Black Friday. I definitely need to get on that. This year, I too had some problems with FedEx. I was not happy to hear that my brother didn't get his present. Not that it was FE's fault, but that someone stole the package off their porch. *sigh*

    Hope you had a wonderful New Years! :)

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  50. Well since you asked -- the biggest and only failure I had online this year was York Photos. I ordered 40 cards and paid MUCHO extra for 2 day shipping only for them to arrive with only 15 envelopes and York closed for 3 days. They sent me out new ones that arrived 5 days later. And I paid extra for this!

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  51. Definitely Amazon, 20 hour from Germany to my doorstep in Finland or from the UK to Finland in 26 hours.

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