How Important is Sustainability for e-Commerce Shoppers?

Avatar for Katerina Kadlecova

With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the e-commerce industry that was already booming suddenly grew even further. The closure of physical stores brought dependence on online shopping, but also raised awareness about its environmental effects. The pandemic lowered the popularity of pick-up points in favor of home delivery, as people were spending more time at home. This highlighted the two main issues related to sustainability in e-commerce: packaging and shipping. 

The demand for sustainability in e-commerce

Companies compete with each other in best implementing new, sustainable approaches. But to what extent do customers actually care? 

Research of AfterPay has shown that the level of environmental awareness differs across countries. However, the ‘high climate considerate’ group has similar demographics across the three researched countries – Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. In this context, ‘high climate considerate’ means taking the environment into consideration with (almost) every purchase made. In general, ‘high climate considerate’ consumers account for approximately 10-20% of the population. Typically, a consumer highly considerate of the environment is younger, in the pre-family or family stage of life, and has a higher than average education and income. In terms of shopping behavior, such consumers are typically more loyal to the online channel. They also make more online purchases than average.

The trade-offs

An interesting difference between high and low climate considerate customers can be seen when looking into changes that they are willing to make. Consumers relatively less invested in environmental issues are more likely to switch channels than brands because of environmental concerns. On the other hand, more environmentally conscious customers are far more likely to switch brands and stay true to online. This has to do with the fact that the ‘high climate considerate’ group is overrepresented in the segment ‘Heavy Online Shoppers’, in other words, the group most often shopping online. Therefore, it is crucial for brands that are looking to succeed online among young heavy shoppers to have their sustainability efforts in check.

sustainability in e-commerce

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Avatar for Katerina Kadlecova

Online Marketing Coordinator at Icecat N.V.

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