Cyber Monday 2021 is bound to be a disappointment. 

While the shopping holiday had been outpacing Black Friday in terms of popularity in recent years, 50 percent of shoppers will be done with their holiday shopping before November 29th, according to an exclusive new survey from logistics startup parcelLab and third-party research firm YouGov.

Following last year's shipping delays and inventory shortages, many U.S consumers have pushed ahead their holiday shopping activities. Five percent of them are already done shopping for the season, while another 12 percent say they will be done by Halloween, according to the survey, which was conducted in mid-August. 

Given the shifting shopping window, businesses that don't want to miss out may be tempted to move ahead their own campaigns and holiday programs. But that might be a mistake, says Tobias Buxhoidt, parcelLab's CEO and founder. The difficult shopping climate has made customer service all the more vital. So instead of chasing early sales, he suggests focusing on the customer experience during fulfillment, shipping, delivery, and returns as a way to encourage repeat purchases and drive additional sales. "Customer acquisition is incredibly expensive, whereas providing a better experience so customers buy again is very cost-effective," he says.

This will also help companies having to cope amid a higher number of disgruntled shoppers, sick of dealing with disappearing stock levels, warehouse issues and delays, overwhelmed delivery drivers, and so on, says Buxhoidt. While it may be a challenge to please customers facing delays, it presents opportunity to surprise and delight with strong customer service, he says.

To fix sour attitudes, Buxhoidt suggests overcommunicating during fulfillment, shipping, delivery, and returns. "Brands today compete on an experience battleground for attention and loyalty," he says, adding that 23 percent of consumers won't order from your business again if they have a negative delivery experience. "This churn rate is too costly to ignore."