Business Advice

How to make your business more sustainable now that so much is online

- April 21, 2021 3 MIN READ

With two in three shoppers wanting low carbon delivery options, finding a way to run your eCommerce business more sustainably is becoming essential.

According to Australia Post research online shopping grew by 57 per cent in 2020, resulting in a significant increase in delivery vehicles.  All those new cars on the road have meant a significant increase in Australia’s carbon footprint. In fact, a University of Wollongong report found Australia’s transport sector is responsible for nearly a fifth of the country’s carbon emissions.

Australians have responded to the news with a call for more sustainable delivery options with recent research by parcel collection network Hubbed finding 68 per cent of Aussies would choose lower-carbon-emitting parcel delivery methods if givene the choice.

Ahead of Earth Day (22 April), David McLean, Founder and CEO of Hubbed offers his top tips for retailers and carriers to reduce their carbon footprint.

5 tips to reduce your impact  

Offer delivery methods that reduce the number of vehicles on the road

Couriers make multiple trips a day to individual addresses, which can extend parcel delivery routes and increase vehicles on the roads, and thereby emissions. Missed deliveries are often returned to depots, extending delivery routes even further. Online retailers should consider offering alternative delivery choices at checkout, such as delivery to collection points. In this way, couriers can deliver multiple parcels to one location, which are often local stores, including petrol stations, convenience stores, and other independent retail outlets. This can help couriers save on petrol costs and reduce congestion and carbon emissions. Hubbed’s research suggests carriers who use collection points can reduce emissions by 0.47kgC02e per kilometre.

Bring parcels closer to customers

With Statista suggesting more than half of the global population currently living in cities, retailers and carriers should consider leveraging ‘micro-fulfilment centres’ in metropolitan areas. This can shorten the distance between customers and their online orders, thereby speeding up delivery times and reducing emissions in the process. Retailers with bricks and mortar locations can also ship orders directly to customers from local stores, which are often closely situated to customers, and make use of existing inventory.

Educate consumers about the impact of certain delivery choices

Hubbed has seen an increase in consumers selecting same-day and next-day delivery options. While they can be convenient for consumers, they also negatively impact the environment. Shorter time frames put pressure on carriers to deliver orders quickly, forcing drivers to start delivery runs with vehicles that aren’t at full capacity and increasing their trips to depots to collect more orders. David suggests retailers inform customers of the impact of choosing such options during the checkout process.

Our survey shows most Australians want low carbon delivery options to be labelled at checkout, so retailers would be wise to ensure consumers are also educated around methods that can harm the environment.

Partner with environmentally conscious carriers

The good news is that some carriers are already making changes to minimise their environmental impact. Retailers should seek out carriers that are already beginning to reduce their carbon emissions. Some carriers have committed to becoming carbon neutral, while others have started using electric vehicles across their fleets. PWC’s Australia’s Road to Zero Transport Emissions report found electric vehicles powered from renewable sources produce just 6g of carbon dioxide per kilometre, compared with the 184g per kilometre produced by the average new car.

Consider sustainable packaging options

Seek out environmentally friendly packaging options. Use recycled or low-carbon packing materials, satchels and boxes. Such options could help attract and retain customers, who may feel confident shopping from retailers that are actively reducing their impact on the environment.

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