retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Excellent piece in Forbes that asks a relevant question - in a world where people seem to be more focused than ever on sustainability issues, will that force them to make a choice about convenience and the one day/free shipping guarantees to which so many of the same people have become addicted?

There is conflicting data cited in the story:

"A study by Future Commerce released last week found that 7% of respondents with Prime members are unsure if they will renew their membership, with some going on to say that they can wait an extra day for shipping." 

"The report also found that consumers increasingly care more about sustainable business practices, with 42% having browsed or purchased from physical second-hand, thrift or consignment shops, and 47% saying they actively focus on buying fewer, better things."

But…

"Future Commerce also found in its consumer survey that the top three requirements for e-commerce websites are free shipping (58%), free returns (46.75%) and two-day delivery (30.39%)."

And, as companies such as Amazon and Walmart invest millions in faster shipping, it drives smaller - and less-well funded - competitors to do the same.

"Amazon and Walmart are not making its decisions in a vacuum," the story suggests. "Consumer demand for one-day shipping would have to be apparent to execs in order to justify the huge investment required to get from two-day to one-day shipping. And it’s unknown which demographics are using one-day shipping. Are the younger generations who are self-reporting a tendency toward sustainability actually following through with this logic in their daily purchases?"

The conclusion?

"Shoppers are calling the shots. And unless we start putting our money where our mouth is, we’ll all be dealing with more boxes, more delivery trucks, and the long-term environmental effects of our decisions today."

Ultimately, the Eye Opener from the story is this: "Consumers - indeed, citizens - are pretty much able to rationalize anything."

Which is true. And ultimately a little depressing.
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