Customers are increasingly demanding retailers and their delivery partners become more environmentally sustainable.

Over the last few years, the e-commerce industry has seen a tremendous surge in demand, and with that came an increase in the number of fast delivery options, with companies competing to offer faster and tighter delivery windows. However, the environmental impact of same-day and next day express deliveries cannot be ignored. These speedy delivery options can involve multiple trips by delivery vehicles which are not fully utilised, resulting in higher emissions of greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change.

So as the world becomes more environmentally conscious, sustainability has also become a more important consideration for customers when making purchasing decisions online. Both in the consumer world and the business world, customers are increasingly expecting retailers and delivery companies to take sustainability seriously and to offer environmental options for the delivery of their goods. In 2022 50% of respondents to research about home deliveries stated that they were quite/very interested in an environmentally- friendly delivery method, businesses ignoring this aspect of their operations will miss out on both sales and savings. 

There are four points your business could consider to improve the sustainability of your last mile deliveries:

  • Reduce your carbon footprint: One of the most significant ways to improve the sustainability of your business is by reducing your carbon footprint. This can be accomplished by reviewing your supply chain and identifying areas where waste can be reduced, emissions lowered, and energy use decreased. You may also consider using renewable energy, such as solar or wind power, to power your operational sites. However, you must first be able to monitor the existing situation, a highly accurate vehicle telematics solution can help measure the miles travelled, speed, fuel consumption and depending upon the vehicle calculate the CO2 produced for every mile of its journey. Once you understand the current situation steps can then be taken to reduce your fleets fuel consumption and carbon footprint. Using intelligent dynamic route optimsiation software can easily help to reduce the miles driven, improving delivery efficiency, lowering miles per delivery and hence CO2.
  • Use sustainable packaging: Packaging plays a crucial role in delivering products to customers safely and securely. However, the detrimental impact of excessive packaging on the environment is a real concern.  The majority of packaging materials are not biodegradable and contribute significantly to waste, landfills and pollution.

Using sustainable packaging is a great way to improve the sustainability of final mile deliveries. Rather than using plastic, use biodegradable or compostable materials, as well as reusable packaging that customers can return to you after use or find a second use for.

  • Switch to eco-friendly logistics solutions: Logistics is a significant contributor to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.  To lessen the impact, some logistics providers are now transitioning to electric, hydrogen or alternative fuelled vehicles that emit less air born pollutants. Some are even using manpower, such as walking or cargo cycles in inner cities, especially in cities where there are clean air-zones and a standard diesel vehicle would otherwise prove to be expensive just to access the area.
  • Prioritise more environmentally friendly delivery options: The belief that consumers always want a fast delivery is a myth. While speed of delivery is certainly an important factor for some customers, research suggests that many are willing to accept longer delivery times in exchange for more sustainable and environmentally friendly shipping options.

    Many people are becoming more conscious of their environmental impact and are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Express or same-day delivery options will not be the most environmentally friendly delivery options unless a nearby delivery has already been scheduled. Instead, companies should consider offering more sustainable delivery options such as consolidated or group deliveries or slower delivery times. This will enable routes to be dynamically optimised and deliveries in the same area or neighbourhood to be delivered on the same day and at the same time.

It is possible to incentivise customers at the point of purchase, encouraging them to select more sustainable options by offering discounts or rewards when they choose the environmental delivery option where a delivery in the immediate area is already scheduled. These are usually offered as “Green” slots and delivery price incentives will encourage consumers to select a Green slot.

Technology has the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions and help companies to become more sustainable while also reducing operational costs. Longer delivery options usually require fewer vehicles and allow for more efficient delivery routing, reducing the overall environmental impact.

It is clear that sustainability is becoming increasingly important to customers, and businesses that fail to take this into account could suffer in the long term. As a business owner, it’s important to prioritise more environmentally friendly delivery options, not just to reduce your own carbon footprint, but also to appeal to customers who are concerned about sustainability.

You can future-proof your company and assure the long-term sustainability of your last mile deliveries by taking these four steps of limiting your effect, utilising sustainable packaging, converting to eco-friendly vehicles, and prioritising more environmentally friendly delivery options. Not only will this benefit the environment and save money, but it can also increase customer loyalty and brand reputation.

About Charley Eves

I have been involved with marketing for nearly 30 years. Ask me anything. If I can help I will surprised. Dad of two. Husband.

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