E-commerce in Europe is set to reach a major milestone this year – TradingPlatforms1 forecasts that the number of e-commerce users will pass 500 million for the first time. Further data from the fintech company reveals that the penetration rate of European e-commerce users will reach 59.7% – rising to 67.1% in 2025.
“Technological advancements in the past couple of decades have given digital commerce a much bigger influence than ever before”, editor Rex Pascual comments2. “Its importance was further highlighted during the lockdowns of 2020 when it allowed companies, big and small, to survive despite the hardships imposed by the pandemic.”
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UK bank NatWest3 has become the latest company to respond to consumers’ desire for greater clarity on their environmental impact, with the release of a carbon tracking feature on its app. It will allow customers to see the CO2 emissions linked to their daily financial purchases.
The free tool has been created in partnership with carbon footprint tracking experts CoGo4. Customers can log various personal behaviors on the app, such as whether they’re meat eaters, and the app will provide tips on how they can make more eco-friendly decisions.
“We know that many people in the UK want to reduce their impact on the climate, and that to be able to change something in a meaningful way, you need to be able to measure it,” says David Lindberg, NatWest’s CEO of retail banking5.
Returns have long been an unwelcome headache for online retailers, but as 49% of consumers actively check a brand’s returns policy before committing to buy6, businesses who don’t invest in this area will miss out.
Over in Germany, it seems they’re getting it right. A recent market survey found that one in two online retailers offer a return period that’s longer than the legal requirement7. Fashion retailers are particularly generous – 61% of those in the top 100 list offer their customers up to 30 days to think about whether they want to keep their purchase(s).
The report also identified that more and more retailers are asking customers to download a returns label (rather than providing them with the label in their package.) Though this requires extra effort from the customers, “it can be compensated for by the retailer if customers are guided through the process in an understandable and transparent manner via a returns portal – and can simply choose between changing the item for a different size, complaint, or return, for example. And for online retailers, this procedure has the clear advantage that they can get an early overview of which goods will be coming back to them,” the report notes.
As for payment, 90% of the retailers surveyed allow unwanted products to be returned free of charge – an incentive that has been shown to increase sales8.
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As people spend more time on messaging apps, more and more brands are looking for ways to use such channels as touchpoints with their customers.
Conversational commerce (or c-commerce) is already big business in China, with leading messaging platform WeChat hosting brand-consumer conversations. Now Westerners are beginning to come round to the concept, too, attracted by the convenience and personalization of liaising directly with brands.
“Companies can usually be relied upon to go where customers are so messaging has become vital for business, not just experimental,” says Javier Mata, founder of Yalo9, a start-up connecting firms to messaging platforms. “Conversational commerce is a simple technology solution that enables brands to meet end-users where they already are in their favorite mobile communication channels.”10
Payment by instalments is becoming increasingly popular in France. A new survey by Gallit11 found that 30% of French consumers have already resorted to instalment payments for their online purchases – a payment method that allows them to pay the bill in small portions throughout a fixed period of time.
Globally, such ‘buy now pay later’ (BNPL) services have been gaining market share. Recent research found that 18% of millennials (those aged 25-40) made at least one BNPL purchase over the past two years12. And it’s good news for e-commerce merchants, too. BNPL incentivizes customers to buy, boosts conversion rates, and increases average basket sizes by 20–30%13.
1 - TradingPlatforms
2 - TradingPlatforms report, July 2021
3 - NatWest
4 - CoGo
5 - David Lindberg quote, Canvas8, July 2021
6 - Narvar Consumer Report, June 2017
7 - Ecommerce News Europe, July 2021
8 - Shopify, February 2019
9 - Yalo
10 - Javier Mata quote, Canvas8, July 2021
11 - Gallit survey, Ecommerce News Europe, July 2021
12 - Forbes, November 2020
13 - Scott Galloway data, Big Commerce, Accessed July 2021