Consumers expect webshops to use sustainable packaging

sustainable packaging

Webshops risk losing sales if they fail to meet consumer expectations for more sustainable packaging, according to new research among Dutch and Flemish consumers commissioned by DS Smith. The study revealed that 19% of Dutch online shoppers and 15% of Flemish respondents would stop ordering from a company if it used too much unnecessary packaging, and over one in ten would do the same in the case of non-recyclable or difficult-to-recycle packaging.

The survey leaves no doubt that sustainability is an important issue for consumers. Many people see a direct link between a brand’s packaging and its broader sustainability efforts. Almost four out of five respondents said that they prefer to receive a product in paper or cardboard packaging.

Meanwhile, more than half said that – unlike plastic – paper or cardboard packaging demonstrates a company’s commitment to the environment. In fact, the results show an aversion to plastic: seven out of ten respondents want to receive as little plastic packaging as possible.

Damaged packaging

In addition, one in four consumers have received damaged outer packaging. This can actually have a negative effect on repeat purchases, with 27% of the Dutch respondents and 22% of Belgian consumers citing this as a reason to order less from the webshop in question.

Another important packaging-related concern for consumers is the level of recyclability. Half of the Dutch respondents and as many as 59% of the Flemish respondents regard this as a priority, while almost a fifth (17%) of consumers in both markets would consider paying more for easily recyclable packaging.

Pandemic was the moment of truth

“The pandemic was the moment of truth for many e-commerce brands, as the online shopping trend went hand in hand with increasingly specific expectations about the shipping and delivery of products,” comments Hiddo van de Ven, Sales, Marketing & Innovation Director Benelux at DS Smith.

In his view, sustainability is now clearly a top priority for consumers; they expect high-quality packaging that is recyclable or reusable and reduces unnecessary waste. “At a time when consumers are watching their spending, and competition for custom is fierce, businesses risk losing customers if their packaging does not meet people’s higher expectations,” Van de Ven continues.

Packaging linked to reputation

Overall, according to DS Smith, the study underlines the importance of packaging in terms of a webshop’s reputation and consumer retention. The packaging is often the consumer’s first tangible experience of a product or webshop, and is therefore a key opportunity to not only live up to expectations, but also to make a good impression.

The survey by DS Smith – a supplier of sustainable packaging based on paper fibre – was conducted in January this year among 1,000 internet users (500 per market) aged 16 and over who order tangible products online at least once every three months.