The advent of the pandemic has brought about seismic changes to consumer behavior, as quarantining measures early on shifted the way people consume goods. This quickly spurred e-commerce shopping to unexpected levels, launching e-commerce growth to levels that weren’t expected for some years to come. Yet, here and now, we are witnessing the evolution of retail, e-commerce and what constitutes the quintessential consumer shopping experience.
The pandemic has created several stark changes in consumer mentality — the most predominant being the influx of digital shopping. During the lockdowns, most consumers left their homes as little as possible, which meant that shopping was primarily relegated to e-commerce purchases. Many of this steady stream of consumers went to Amazon, looking for ways to spend their time and stimulus checks. However, predominantly brick-and-mortar businesses that witnessed the success of e-commerce ended up adopting some form of digital commerce in an effort to keep sales from lapsing entirely.
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More than just the method of shopping has changed for consumers over the past two years. Perhaps one of the most significant changes was a drop in income levels for many households. One-third of the American population reported a decrease in household income during the course of the pandemic. This has led consumers to be wary of what they’re spending their money on. As a result, brand loyalty has taken a hit as many consumers — now more price-conscious — have been more willing to try unknown brands to cut down on costs. This practice has only grown further due to the increase in inflation, with 2022 bringing about the highest inflation rate in over 40 years.
How ShipStation can help adapt to ever-changing consumer habits
With the continued growth of e-commerce and the increase in mindful shopping habits, there will undoubtedly be an increase in return logistics. It is estimated that approximately $573 billion worth of goods will be returned to retailers throughout 2022, four times the total e-commerce volume in 2008. Logistics capabilities will be further strained as companies will have to contend with both the incoming and outgoing product flows.
While consumer trends will continue to shift and change, the past 24 months have highlighted the weaknesses within the global supply chain. Simply put, the logistical capabilities of many companies and industries have fallen short of the mark, especially in their e-commerce capabilities. Technology players such as ShipStation and other tech-driven third-party logistics providers will take a more active role as many companies will be looking to augment their logistics capabilities with new technology.
Such capabilities include batch label printing, automations, order tracking updates, returns portals and heavily discounted shipping rates which allow for businesses of all sizes to operate and scale more efficiently.
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Small and medium-sized businesses can now compete, thanks to a variety of logistics visibility tools, seamless delivery solutions and freight-matching platforms that help navigate the supply chain chaos. Such solutions democratize and level the playing field, allowing SMBs to stand up to the might of Amazon, even if they do not have the economies of scale that Amazon has enjoyed over the years.
Ultimately, this culminates in creating an ecosystem where end consumers have more choices to buy from and, more importantly, come to expect the same level of service across all different platforms — be it an SMB playing in a niche segment or a behemoth like Amazon that lists just about everything on their carousel.
Learn how ShipStation can help your business adapt to ever-changing consumer habits.
Author Adam Foster is the Director of Content Marketing at ShipStation. Adam and his team create various types of content that drive ShipStation’s mission of helping merchants make shipping simpler and more affordable, allowing them to grow their business. He believes access to information and ecommerce trends is critical for small business owners to make the right choices for their businesses.