Consumers want the speed and convenience of online shopping with the leading e-commerce companies, but feel guilty taking business away from smaller companies that offer local, more personalized service, according to a survey from third-party logistics services provider (3PL) Kenco Logistics, released this week.
The company’s 2021 E-Commerce Consumer Survey identifies trends and preferences in e-commerce shopping habits, sustainability, delivery, and more. Kenco polled 1,300 consumers this spring and found that most value convenience and sustainability and will reward brands that can deliver a mix of both. The personalization of shopping with smaller businesses also ranked high. Combined, these factors are creating room at the table for smaller companies, they said.
“While 81% of consumers still shop online most frequently with Amazon and big box retailers for their low prices and convenience, today’s e-commerce consumers are conflicted in aligning their principles with their purchases, creating new market opportunities,” the survey authors said.
Among the survey’s findings, online shopping trends that were accelerated by the pandemic are here to stay. More than 40% of consumers said they make online purchases once a week; nearly 20% said they make online purchases multiple times per week; and 84% said they expect their online purchases to increase or remain the same post-pandemic.
The survey also found that the e-commerce giants will continue to get the majority of consumers’ online purchasing spend: 81% of consumers said they choose to shop online with the larger players, citing price, user-friendly experiences, and product availability as top reasons. But that convenience comes with a price: 36% of consumers said they associate shopping online at Amazon or big box retailers with feelings of guilt. Of those, nearly three-quarters said they feel like they are taking away from small businesses when purchasing from larger e-commerce companies; 68% said they think they are contributing to unsustainable practices involved with packaging, manufacturing, and labor by doing so; and half say they feel guilty that they are not supporting more socially responsible companies—particularly ethical, minority-owned, and environmentally conscious firms.
“The data [reveal] that these feelings of guilt associated with making Amazon or big box purchases increase as consumer age decreases, showing trends toward environmentally and/or socially conscious shopping will only continue to gain momentum,” according to the survey.
Sustainability practices also ranked high with consumers surveyed, many of whom said they will wait longer for personalized, eco-friendly buying experiences. Although nearly half (49%) of consumers said they prefer two-day delivery, most said they are willing to wait longer for deliveries of more personalized and sustainable products and experiences: 74% said they are either highly likely or likely to wait longer for such deliveries from smaller, more unique brands, and 69% said they are either highly likely or likely to forgo faster delivery options for more sustainable options, such as delaying deliveries by grouping orders or combining orders with others on the same route.
“The expectations levied toward Amazon and big box retailers are being eased for smaller, unique, and sustainable brands that more closely align with consumer values,” David Hauptman, chief commercial officer at Kenco, said in a statement. “While consumers demand low prices and fast delivery times from national and global chains, they’re more forgiving when they know their dollars are contributing to sustainable or socially conscious practices. Small-business owners can worry less about providing instant gratification if they’re offering quality, unique, and sustainable products.”