September 16th 2022

Delivery issues and staff shortages: study examines recent developments in online retailing

New research findings from MCI and ZHAW explore trends in e-commerce | Delivery, costs and staff shortages as biggest hurdles

Almost half of the major online retailers see good and wide-ranging digital marketing as an essential key to success in e-commerce. ©MCI/Kasper
Almost half of the major online retailers see good and wide-ranging digital marketing as an essential key to success in e-commerce. ©MCI/Kasper

625 online retailers from various industries took part in this year's online retailer survey, which was conducted by MCI | The Entrepreneurial School® (Prof. Dr. Claudia Brauer) and the ZHAW School of Management and Law (Dr. Darius Zumstein). After digital commerce reported massive revenue growth in 2020 and 2021, many of the online retailers surveyed have since returned to normal. However, there is hardly a decline: a large share of online retailers say they have observed minimal to no impact on online business since the repeal of most Corona measures. "Customers have become accustomed to shopping online and have discovered its benefits," explains Prof. Dr. Claudia Brauer.

Nevertheless, e-commerce cannot avoid current world events and the challenges they bring. For example, two-thirds of online retailers are affected by delivery problems, such as non-deliverable products, delivery delays, shortages of raw materials and long waiting times, as well as rising fuel and delivery costs. Deliveries from Ukraine are mostly cancelled due to the war. In addition to delivery bottlenecks, online retailers are also struggling in terms of staff. The majority of retailers surveyed reported a shortage of skilled workers and a lack of expertise.

Product quality over sustainability

In addition to the current challenges, the survey also investigated the most important success factors of online retailing. The quality of the products was named most frequently, followed by their exclusivity. Product availability, customer orientation a user-friendly online store play similarly important roles.

Almost half of the major online retailers see good and wide-ranging digital marketing as an essential key to success in e-commerce. In addition to newsletters and search engines, companies rely in particular on social media platforms to strengthen their online presence. "This is not surprising, given the increasing importance of social media in recent years," adds Prof. Dr. Brauer. For example, 60 percent of online retailers surveyed use social media as an additional sales channel, with Facebook (94 percent) and Instagram (86 percent) cited most. YouTube is used by 41 percent, LinkedIn (39 percent) is particularly popular in the B2B sector and only 15 percent resort to TikTok. Price, sustainability and regionality of the products as well as returns and delivery conditions are considered less important by online retailers.

Credit cards and invoice payments are among the preferred payment methods of online customers. Also, the mobile payment provider TWINT is at the forefront in Switzerland, while in Austria Klarna has made strong gains in market share. In addition, cryptocurrencies are increasing in popularity when paying online.

Current research in MCI’s curricula

For the second time, Prof. Dr. Claudia Brauer was significantly involved in the annual research study. At the Entrepreneurial School®, she teaches in the Department of Business & Management and provides her students with highly topical and practical research results from the fields of digital marketing & analytics and e-commerce. She also serves as the academic director of the Executive Education Masters Digital Marketing & Analytics, which focuses on the technical, strategic and legal content in the area of strategy development and online marketing.


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 Patricia Pichler, BA | Marketing Manager Marketing & Communications
Patricia Pichler, BA Marketing Manager +43 512 2070 - 1527
Prof. Dr. Claudia Brauer | Digital Marketing & Analytics Bachelor's program Business & Management
Prof. Dr. Claudia Brauer Digital Marketing & Analytics +43 512 2070 - 3139