Royal Mail parcel and mail truck.
Source: Royal Mail

Royal Mail Report: How Social Media and ‘Buy British’ Sentiment Are Redefining Online Consumer Behaviour


The latest Online Retailing Consumer Report from Royal Mail sheds light on the evolving landscape of consumer preferences in online shopping, highlighting a pronounced shift towards sustainable practices and trustworthy services.

The study underscores the importance of these factors in influencing consumer behavior beyond just competitive pricing.

According to the report, 55% of consumers are more inclined to shop from online retailers that demonstrate a clear commitment to sustainability.

This preference is even more pronounced regarding packaging, with 76% of shoppers expressing support for fully recyclable packaging and 73% believing that fashion retailers should take active steps to recycle unwanted clothes.


Sustainability is not just a buzzword but a deciding factor in how people shop online, the report suggests, pointing to the 41% of consumers who consider sustainable delivery options worth the additional cost.

This sentiment is especially strong among Gen Z shoppers, with 60% willing to pay more for environmentally-conscious delivery practices.

One innovative approach gaining traction is the concept of a ‘collect and reuse’ packaging service, with 64% of shoppers in favor of such an option.

Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer at Royal Mail, elaborated on the changing market dynamics: “With so much competition online, the research highlights the importance of appealing to buyers through a great customer experience, trustworthy delivery and returns, and strong environmental credentials.”

But sustainability isn’t the only driving force behind consumer choices.

Delivery and Returns

Trust, particularly in delivery services, plays a crucial role, with 68% of shoppers stating they would abandon a purchase if they lacked confidence in the delivery company.

A smooth return process is crucial for ecommerce retailers, as 81% of consumers are likelier to become repeat customers if returns are seamless. Conversely, charging for returns can deter 81% of consumers from choosing an online retailer.

Buy British – Buy Local

In terms of shopping habits, consumers prefer supporting local and smaller businesses, with 72% favoring British retailers and 67% inclined towards smaller sellers, provided the pricing remains competitive.

Despite the convenience of online shopping, physical stores maintain their appeal, with 47% of consumers, and notably 59% among Gen Z, preferring to view products in-store before purchasing online.

Social Media

The study also pinpoints the influence of social media and peer reviews on buying decisions.

Approximately 46% of online shoppers acknowledge that social media prompts them to make purchases, with platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok serving as significant catalysts.

Furthermore, the credibility garnered through reviews is indispensable, as 76% consistently check reviews when considering new retailers.

Looking to the future, emerging trends like ‘buy now, pay later’ credit options and immersive shopping experiences through AR (augmented reality) or VR (virtual reality) technology are capturing consumers’ interest.

These trends, particularly among younger generations, signal a market that’s continuously adapting to technological advancements and shifting consumer values.

Royal Mail Ready to Meet Evolving Ecommerce Landscape

Landon also emphasized Royal Mail’s initiatives in aligning with these consumer trends: “Royal Mail’s ‘feet on the street’ network of postmen and women means we are the parcel carrier with the lowest carbon emissions – a useful credential for retailers looking to promote their sustainability policies to customers.”

The Royal Mail report crystallizes the evolving ethos of the modern consumer, who increasingly values sustainability, reliability, and innovative shopping experiences.

To thrive in this dynamic digital marketplace, online retailers must prioritize environmental responsibility and customer trust, and embrace emerging technologies that resonate with shoppers’ conscience and convenience.

Royal Mail is confident in its ability to meet current and future consumer expectations for delivery and returns. This report gives the organization a roadmap to continue to build out a best-in-class logistics network while educating ecommerce retailers on trends that are important to their customers.

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