How can you overcome the consumer crunch?

Last year’s economic worries are persisting and it’s making life harder for retailers. Consumers are feeling it too, as evidenced by the results uncovered by our new Ecommerce Delivery Benchmark Report surveying over 8,000 households from across the UK and other major markets.

Growing living costs and high inflation are prompting changes in buyer behaviour. Your business must stay ahead of changes to minimise any negative impact on turnover.

Rising costs, labour squeezes, tricky supply chains and more – all are on the minds of consumers and retailers, but you don’t have to gather complex data on to understand what your customers need. Nor do you need to spend an age getting your head around the data you do have.

Our research can help you to understand your customers and their concerns. The study provides access to a bucketload of data to better comprehend the marketplace and inform future decisions.

Divided into three sections full of useful data, our free extensive study provides you – without a huge time or monetary cost – valuable insights into:

  • The current global retail and consumer landscape
  • Key trends in online delivery 
  • Success Strategies 

Once you digest the findings in these areas, you’ll feel better making important decisions about your retail operations for the foreseeable future.

We know you’re under pressure and strapped for time, that’s why we’ve done the hard work of getting into the minds of consumers for you. A small selection of the insights waiting for you in our report include:

  • 24% of consumers expect to buy more online in 2023 than the previous year
  • Of less affluent shoppers, 52% will only make purchases of non-food items when necessary
  • Shoppers in the UK are under the most significant economic strain in the markets we questioned

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Optimism about retail is still present; many companies doubled down in their online offerings and operations due to the pandemic. While four in five people are concerned about the economy, almost one in four are increasing the amount of online shopping they do.

There’s still a sizeable opportunity for growth in eCommerce.

Upgrade your understanding

So, on to our report that’s bursting with easy-to-digest graphs that clearly map out the current state of affairs. A small selection of the findings include:

  • 63% of consumers in the UK are concerned about the economy and their finances in 2023
  • The rising cost of food, fuel, and energy is the chief economic concern for 57% of respondents 
  • 34% of buyers are adopting a ‘no frills’ philosophy, only shopping for non-food items when necessary – 29% will be shopping less often, and 11% aim to find cheaper brands or retailers

We help companies simplify their shipping logistics, and we can help prevent knowledge gaps too. While consumers are continuing to pivot to online shopping across certain categories, their demands are growing in tandem. From resisting delivery charges to expecting free returns, online retailers may struggle with customer retention this year if they can’t meet the lofty expectations of prospective shoppers.

Most people are planning on adjusting their spending habits but it’s worth remembering that there will be an increase in online purchasing for many too. Equipped with such data, your company can show it understands the current climate and, hopefully, convert browsers into customers.

How to ride the wave

Clarity is key

Customer experience is an important part of the overall experience, but what do consumers want amid an economic stumble? Providing transparency where possible can be effective from the start to the end of the journey. Households have signalled this is still the case – especially when delivery and returns are concerned.

As our report shows:

  • For 31% of prospective buyers, cost is the most critical aspect of delivery when ordering online
  • 76% of shoppers believe returns should always be free (up 3% from 2022)
  • 10% of people consider a flexible returns policy as being their most important delivery consideration

Some consumers may fail to recognise that the retail landscape is also particularly tricky for those selling. A desire to receive and return items for free doesn’t align with many retailers’ instincts to recoup costs where they can. A hike in delivery charges may be what some businesses feel is best to recover profit margins, but our report’s results suggest that may not be the most effective decision.

The trend of free returns in ecommerce has created the perception of sales being risk-free instead of final decisions, as customers can easily return any purchases for no financial consequence. Many shoppers are unwilling to accept changes here. Consider any surplus charges carefully.


You may be wondering whether it’s time to go green with deliveries. Our research shows that, on average, consumers’ attitudes towards green delivery are warming.

Most revealed that they value eco-friendly options, including longer delivery time or higher prices to reduce emissions and out-of-home delivery. In other words, sustainable delivery options influence purchasing decisions – despite cost-of-living increases.

Here are some key statistics on more sustainable shopping practices for 2023:

  • 26% of consumers expect to buy second-hand or use resale marketplaces, a year-on-year increase
  • More people consider green delivery as the most important aspect of delivery considerations in 2023 than in 2022
  • 79% of shoppers would consider green delivery options, and 34% would consider switching to out-of-home delivery

Retailers aren’t all-in on green deliveries just yet, however. While 75% of merchants recognise the importance of sustainability and reducing their environmental impact, less than one in five consider it a key focus for their business in 2023. This may be an area to keep in mind.

Crucial insights delivered clearly

We know you’re busy. The industry is in flux yet demands and expectations are high – perhaps even steeper than before. That’s why our report should be a major part of your toolkit as you adjust to the behaviours of your customers, both existing and prospective.

Download ShipEngine’s report for deep insights into the retail landscape for 2023. 

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