People forced to stay at home during lockdown accelerate the shift from physical retail to e-commerce. As consumers avoid brick and mortar stores, online shopping has already surged in many countries. Italy, for example, saw a growth of 101% in online deliveries in March 2020, compared to the same time the previous year.
“The corona virus has introduced new user groups to various digital services from virtual meetings to online shopping,” says Mikko Rissanen, Director, Business Intelligence & Development, UPM Specialty Papers. “Many consumer studies indicate that the shift to online shopping is expected to continue even after the lockdown is lifted.”
New shopping experiences online
We spoke with Alejandra, Silke and Heikki, three European consumers living in countries that have introduced restrictions to help contain the coronavirus.
“I don’t usually buy things online, because I prefer to buy from retail stores. However, here in Spain, only supermarkets and pharmacies have been open, so I had to order basic things like pen, paper and earphones online for the first time,” Alejandra Sanchez Herrera, a 20-year old student, explains.
According to a new study by Kantar, the share of consumers in three of Europe’s biggest e-commerce markets – France, Germany and the UK – that do more than half of their shopping online has grown by as much as 80%. Six out of ten consumers say that they intend to continue shopping online even after the pandemic passes.
“I have been shopping online even before the pandemic started, but now I have purchased more non-essential goods online” recent retiree Heikki Rytkönen from Finland says. “For example, last week I ordered some fishing gear that I would have previously bought from a shop. Ordering is not only convenient, but you gain access to a much broader selection of goods.”
COVID-19 restrictions in Belgium have also forced 28-year old Silke Cuypers to modify her shopping habits. “I bought clothes online for the first time because of the lockdown. Online shopping is so convenient, even picking the right size was easier than I expected.”
Sustainability of online shopping a concern
For both Alejandra and Silke, the sustainability of online shopping is an important consideration. “I prefer ordering from online shops that use cardboard and paper packages over plastic,” Alejandra says. Silke also makes sure that the shop she ordered from provides information about the packaging they use for their products. She is concerned about the ecological impact of online shopping.
UPM Specialty Papers is offers sustainable papers for e-commerce and other types of packaging. Our solutions range from label face and release liner base papers, to packaging papers that can help replace non-renewable packaging. Have you ever ordered clothes online, for example, only to find that each item is individually wrapped in plastics? While this primary packaging plays an important role in protecting the product during delivery, one of UPM’s recent innovations is a translucent paper that could replace these transparent plastics.
Text: Geni Raitisoja