Understanding the Power of the Consumer in the eCommerce Sector

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Retail is driven by the consumer and always has been — the eCommerce sector is no different in terms of its susceptibility to consumer preference. This article considers how consumer choices have changed the eCommerce landscape, and how e-tailers (eCommerce retailers) must adapt.

Timing is everything

With the dawn of new, consumeristic generations comes an increased expectation for products as soon as the desire arises. And quite literally, we mean consumers are particularly partial to same-day delivery. However, interestingly, this is not necessarily the preferred option when it comes at the consumer’s expense. In fact, the number of respondents to a survey enquiring whether consumers would pay extra for faster shipping, dropped by 22% from 2016 to 2018 (47% to 25%). So, if eCommerce retailers are looking to provide incentives to consumers, they could begin by providing faster shipping at reduced costs.

Seeing through the wrapping

Consumers are becoming more and more clued up to the fact that fancy wrapping and pretty packaging do not necessarily guarantee quality and well-designed products. Unfortunately, this is in direct contrast with the traditional strategy of concentrating on psychologically-tested colours, textures and shapes that compel desire and preference. Perhaps this trend is also being influenced by the zero-waste movement which exists to do away with anything that is non-essential and serves the sole purpose of providing a temporary, one-use service. eCommerce retailers could use this phenomenon to their advantage by redirecting production costs from packaging and wrapping to developing higher quality products or investing in more worthwhile activities such as R&D or advertising. Here are 8 eco-friendly packaging alternatives you can consider.


Consumers are increasingly influenced by a brand being omnipresent (available online and in brick-and-mortar stores) due to the increased availability and efficiency this provides. While consumers prefer to buy online rather than in a store, a large majority are more likely to complete their transaction if they have the assurance that they can return or exchange the product in-store. Why is this? Some possible reasons are the cost savings for returns and the speed at which a solution can be found to their dilemma, knowing the problem will not reoccur (they can simply return or exchange that same day and be done with it).

How browsing and purchases are made

Where Baby Boomers traditionally cluster required purchases into one shopping trip to the mall, perhaps not so concerned or aware of the need to ‘look around’, Millennials will go to the mall for one specific product and come away with just that product. This habit can be attributed to the fact that Millennials are well-versed in searching for and purchasing a specific product online that exactly suits their purposes rather than browsing for the same item in several different stores.

This habit is important for e-tailers to be privy to as they can adapt their eCommerce presence accordingly. However, it is also vital not to underestimate their brick-and-mortar store presence for the older generations. This is because these generations established their shopping habits prior to the eCommerce surge and so they are far more accustomed to browsing contentedly through a mall. This behaviour creates valuable exposure and increased selling opportunities for retailers.

What purchases are made

Finally, it is important to consider what consumers are spending more and more of their hard-earned money to ensure retailers can optimise these opportunities. Despite the fact that, for the third year running, the greatest percentage of online purchases made are on clothing and apparel (77%) followed by electronics and health and beauty products (52% and 41% respectively), it has been found that current consumers still prefer to spend the majority of their income on experiences such as dining, health experiences and holidays. This is important to note for e-tailers as they can either invest more and more in these industries and products or else they can include giveaways and competitions which appeal to these consumer preferences.

Despite the minefield that fickle consumer preferences seem to create, it can be well-worth researching trends and fluctuations so that your company can be one step ahead of the game and continually successful in the eCommerce environment.

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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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