Recent e-commerce research commissioned in key markets across Asia by FedEx Express (FedEx) shows that small and medium businesses (SMEs) that embraced e-commerce during the COVID pandemic are underestimating the importance consumers now place on sustainability in their purchase decision-making. 75% of SMEs surveyed said their customers are more interested in receiving their goods as quickly as possible rather than in sustainable shopping. 73% of SMEs also thought that receiving goods as cheaply as possible is more important to customers. Insights from consumers show the reality is very different.
The What’s Next in E-Commerce survey polled SMEs and consumers in 11 prominent Asian markets in July 2022. The poll explored the continuing evolution of e-commerce in Asia and identified trends that could fuel their future growth.
Key Finding: Consumers want both sustainability and speed
The accelerated growth of e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic occurred as consumer concerns over the environment continued to grow. For a significant number of consumers, the future of the planet is top of mind, and they do not want to compromise – they want both sustainability and speedy delivery. 67% of those surveyed expressed as much interest in receiving their goods quickly as they did in the sustainability of the online shopping process.
The e-commerce research shows that 8 out of 10 consumers expect the e-commerce companies they buy from to pursue sustainable business models. 7 out of 10 also prefer to buy from companies with an effective Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policy in place. This presents an interesting opportunity for SMEs to invest in more sustainable practices.
Consumers in the United Arab Emirates are also most likely to take sustainability considerations into account during a purchase decision. According to a PwC survey, this trend is also seen across the wider Middle East and North Africa region with 53% of respondents saying they will always or often buy eco-friendlier products.
Taking a more sustainable approach to delivery
“Sustainability is no longer an optional extra for SMEs interested in expanding their e-commerce businesses. Consumers increasingly see it as an essential and non-negotiable part of their decision-making process,” said Kawal Preet, president of Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (AMEA) at FedEx Express. “SMEs can make an immediate difference by thinking about the logistics connecting their supply chain all the way to the end-consumer. At FedEx, we’re already taking tangible steps to mitigate the impact of delivery on the planet.”
FedEx is following a multi-track path to reduce carbon emissions in the delivery cycle with a goal of achieving carbon-neutral global operations by 2040. This includes investing in electric vehicles for last-mile deliveries, and digital solutions like FedEx Electronic Trade Documents that allow customers to submit their customs documents electronically, reducing paper waste. Additionally, FedEx is implementing solutions like reusable packaging to help reduce waste in the shipping process.