Any Other Business: 11 September 2020

Anna Thompson
Anna Thompson
Discover content team
3 min read
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This week’s AOB looks at the latest e-commerce news from around the world, including online shoppers’ new spending concerns, and why consumers value online marketplaces over retailers’ websites.

Personal touch is the way to consumers' hearts

New research shows that people prefer handmade products over mass-manufactured and mass-produced when they’re purchasing products that reflect their personality or values.

Research by the Journal of Consumer Psychology1 found that consumers prefer the human element as they “associate human labor more strongly with product uniqueness” which “helps them satisfy [purchasing] motives”. As an example, in one part of the study, participants displayed stronger preferences for hand-made glasses frames – which can show some of their personality – than when choosing a lens, which was more of a practical decision.

The findings perhaps explain some of Etsy’s success – the online craft marketplace enjoyed record growth throughout the pandemic as people are looking for brands with unique products and brand stories. The global arts and crafts market as a whole is projected to be worth USD$50.91 billion by 20242.

Beyond Meat looks beyond retail for growth opportunities

Beyond Meat3 has joined the direct-to-consumer goldrush with the launch of an e-commerce website for US-based customers. The brand, which currently sells plant-based meat products in 26,000 retail outlets across the US4, sees e-commerce as the natural next step following increased sales during the pandemic.

The site will have some online-only products for sale, and also act as a ‘test kitchen’ for new product recipes and ideas. Chief Growth Officer Charles Muth said the brand is focusing on reaching not just vegetarian and vegan customers, but also those who want to eat less meat for health or environmental reasons. Reaching these customers is especially important as the market becomes more saturated; “there’s so much more competition than there was just a few years ago,” says Muth.5

In fact, according to The Good Food Institute6, sales of plant-based meat grew 38% between 2017 and 2019, with the category now worth about USD$939 million7.

Are you ready to move your business online, too? Our e-commerce guides will ensure you cover all bases for success.  

Survey unveils secrets of online marketplaces' success

Digital Commerce 360’s 2020 Online Marketplaces Report8 – now available to purchase – has revealed some of the key aspects that have made online marketplaces so popular with consumers. 

Customers who choose to shop on marketplaces rather than directly from a retailer were asked what influenced them to do so. 67% said it was due to better prices, 63% due to free/discounted shipping, and 45% due to the speed of delivery.  

Of the sellers surveyed, 74% said they have or would choose to sell on a marketplace such as Amazon, eBay or Etsy to grow sales, 73% to reach more customers, and 47% to expand brand awareness.

Online marketplaces can connect your e-commerce business with millions of customers all over the world. Find out which ones are the best fit for your business with our exclusive guide to the leading platforms.

As consumers tighten their purse strings, what should you be doing?

The pandemic triggered a global rise in online shopping sales, yet the subsequent effects on the economy mean consumers are now becoming more cautious with their spending.  

Research from PWC9 shows that four in ten consumers in Europe have experienced a decrease in their household income because of the pandemic, leading to 38% planning to reduce their spending over the coming months10.

E-commerce businesses should factor these insights into their sales strategy going forward, especially when considering Christmas shopping and look at where they can offer consumers free shipping, free returns, and/or discounts and offers, all of which are proven to increase conversion rates.  

Startup delivers eco-friendly meals to doggies' doorsteps

The pandemic was also the catalyst for a rise in direct-to-consumer services as shoppers sought a safer and more convenient way to meet their buying needs. Now, a new startup is ensuring our furry friends are remembered, too.

Helsinki-based Alvar Pet11 has just completed another successful round of seed funding for its range of eco-friendly dog foods made from Nordic ingredients such as Baltic herring. The company is committed to reducing the carbon footprint of its ‘direct-to-dog’ service, even using CO2 emissions data to influence the ingredients it chooses for its recipes.

“As dogs become an increasingly popular and prominent part of our lives, their environmental impact must be addressed. The industry has failed to offer sustainable solutions to conscious dog owners,” says Ilari Haataja, Alvar Pet’s CEO12.

Since launching in April, Alvar Pets has delivered over 300,000 meals. The capital raised will be channeled into developing its e-commerce platform into something more scalable as it expands into new markets, starting with Sweden and Germany.

1 - Preference for human (vs. robotic) labor is stronger in symbolic consumption contexts, Wiley Online Library, July 2020

2 - Canvas8, September 2020

3 - Beyond Meat

4 - GlobeNewswire, August 2020

5 - Charles Muth, The Verge, August 2020

6 - The Good Food Institute

7 - The Verge, August 2020

8 - Digital Commerce 360, 2020 Online Marketplaces Report

9 - PWC

10 - PWC Report, Ecommerce News Europe, September 2020

11 - Alvar Pets

12 - Ilari Haataja, Tech EU, August 2020