Unsurprisingly, for most Americans the biggest financial concern this year is inflation. According to new research conducted by ShipStation, which includes Auctane-driven research, inflation will have a $219 billion impact on American consumers and $319 billion globally.
To better understand how this financial uncertainty would impact consumers, ShipStation conducted a consumer panel survey comprising more than 8,000 households across the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy and Spain in November 2022. Two additional surveys were distributed by Auctane of 1,000 consumers in the U.S. in February 2023 and more than 300 merchants in the U.S. in January 2023.
The companies’ surveys revealed that 66 percent of Americans, specifically, will change buying behaviors in 2023, with 31 percent saying they will only be making purchases when necessary and 26 percent reporting they intend to delay or reduce purchasing.
Still, the company’s findings show that despite uncertainty the U.S. has one of the most optimistic economic outlooks globally with e-commerce remaining vital. Almost a quarter of Americans cited wanting to look for savings on rising costs as the reason they expect to shop online more than they currently do. Over the past year, 48 percent of American consumers reported they had 10 or more packages delivered.
The desire to support small and local businesses has also stayed high. Just more than 80 percent of consumers say they will make efforts to support small businesses with 35 percent of consumers also saying they are willing to make sacrifices to shop small. Notably, in the past, this has meant the willingness to spend more to do so.
As costs continue to rise, ShipStation’s researchers said the delivery experience can be a key driver or deterrent for shoppers. Consumers ranked high shipping costs as the number-one reason that would make them less likely to shop with a brand in the future at just over 60 percent. Other top reasons included a product being poorly packaged or damaged at 56 percent, the brand or carrier losing the package at 45 percent and a brand’s difficult return policy at 44 percent.
Experts from the company advised, given the state of the industry, three ways to gain business growth in 2023 including saving on shipping costs, improving the delivery experience for customers and streamlining and expanding operations. Across all U.S. merchants, 72 percent say that they are looking to cut shipping costs to grow this year.
At the same time, merchants reported that cost is the deciding factor for shipping with only 15 percent of merchants identifying the speed of delivery as the most important factor when deciding on a carrier or delivery service. Importantly, researchers found that consumers are largely in agreement with 41 percent of survey respondents saying they are willing to give up faster deliveries for savings this year. However, consumers expect packages to arrive within four days with anything past seven days being considered beyond comfort levels. Three to four days is the top choice across all age groups.
Consumers are, however, more likely to wait longer if given sustainable delivery options, with 49 percent of consumers saying they would consider longer delivery times to reduce emissions. This sentiment was up from 41 percent in 2022, with U.S. consumers being revealed as the least likely to make changes for more sustainable options.
Additional consumer behavior findings from the company’s report showed increasing shopping on social media with Gen Z being the most likely to shop on Instagram and TikTok and all other age groups most likely to shop on Facebook. Mirroring these findings, half of the surveyed merchants said they would plan to sell on Facebook in the next year followed by 40 percent on Instagram and 26 percent who shared plans to sell on TikTok.