How Customers are Changing the Face of eCommerce

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Customers’ expectations and shopping habits are changing eCommerce, causing implications to the way retailers are conducting their businesses. Among today’s demanding consumers, changes have led to retailers closing unprofitable stores and to invest in digital platforms. The insights we present to you about consumers shopping habits below is a must read to better inform your retailing decision making.

Where consumers are shopping

Shoppers buy more online now than ever. While this trend is not expected to wane anytime soon, a physical store is still vital in the retail business model; shoppers are drawing a stronger connection between the two. So instead of substituting one for the other, an online and offline presence is still very valuable to shoppers.

We are also seeing online that more and more shoppers browse and buy on various channels. This increasingly makes the entire buying process a long and complicated one, as well as creating hurdles for online inventory management. This is due to how shopping is becoming so integrated into consumers daily lives — people are checking their social accounts such as Instagram and Facebook on their smartphones and buying at many more opportunities, from the likes of their work desk, bed and the bathroom!


Free shipping highly influences future purchases for nearly all shoppers. In fact, over 60% of shoppers are likely to add items to cart to take advantage of free shipping offers, increasing the overall spend.

Another way customers are changing eCommerce is with their increased expectations of shipping, but they don’t want to pay extra for it. While Amazon’s same-day shipping is popular, consumers are more interested in free shipping and on-time delivery. Surprisingly a recent study showed that only 25% of respondents would pay extra for faster shipping today; compared to 3 years ago, nearly 50% would have.

But don’t start offering free shipping — read up on the best practices for shipping success.

Returns and exchanges

A big game changer is that almost every online shopper highly values free returns or exchanges when making online purchases. This has retailers looking at their returns/exchanges policy to accommodate this need viably which has effects on their return logistics and online inventory management.

Also growing in popularity is the ability to purchase from an online store if they can return or exchange the item in-store. This has been identified as a significant factor for retailers in converting a sale online.

Word of mouth

Giveaways and added “freebies” are motivating shoppers to recommend brands online. They are also positively influencing consumers’ future purchases and especially if it is a surprise freebie.

These factors are not only impacting where and how customers decide to spend money but are changing the eCommerce offering as a result. Consumers are shopping everywhere, and if you are not where your shoppers are, it will be more difficult to convert sales. A sense of security is needed to tip them over to press that buy now button online by expecting an easy returns/exchanges policy – whether it’s the ability to return or exchange for free via postage or at a physical store. Free delivery is trumping fast delivery too, as long as it is on time.

Value is the over-arching desire by customers that is changing eCommerce, in addition to actually being present where they are wanting to shop. The challenge is for retails online and offline, to balance meeting shoppers’ expectations in a profitable way for their business.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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