A recent study by Stuart highlighted the rising trend – one in four shoppers are willing to abandon retailers who don’t prioritize sustainable delivery. This shows how retaining customer loyalty is linked to eco-conscious business practices.

With nearly 70% of consumers saying they are interested in carbon offsetting their delivery emissions, it’s important to make your delivery options sustainable. 

Sustainable delivery: What you need to know

Sustainable delivery is becoming a cornerstone for success, and finding a balance between meeting both consumer expectations and government environmental regulations can be hard. But it is not impossible. 

As customers continue to adopt greener shopping habits, it’s up to retailers to reimagine their delivery models and policies. This is good for the planet while boosting customer loyalty and satisfaction. 

Here are four ways to implement sustainable delivery

1. Be flexible, provide options

Missed deliveries accrue revenue loss while producing additional carbon emissions. And shockingly, more than a billion missed deliveries occur every year. The re-delivery of these items produces 3,742 metric tons of carbon emissions a year. 

Kela Ivonye, the founder of Arrow Food Couriers and Mailhaven did the math: It would take 9,050 trees planted over 58 years to offset the carbon emitted during missed deliveries. 

Apart from the sustainable impact, missed deliveries also reflect poorly on a brand’s reputation. Get ahead of the crux of the crisis by grouping orders to minimize trips. Implement a ‘sustainable delivery day’ where deliveries in the same areas are grouped on specific days. 

2. Track deliveries in real-time

Relying on spreadsheets and whiteboards is not going to optimize your deliveries. And calling your drivers while they’re on the road is just going to delay the process. 

By implementing route optimization and providing real-time tracking of parcels out on delivery, retailers can cut down on missed deliveries, save a customer’s time and effort, reduce operational costs, and ensure they are not part of that 3,742-metric-tons-of-carbon-per-year problem. 

3. Urban hub shipping

Amazon recently announced its decision to reduce its carbon footprint by bringing products closer to consumers. By shipping from urban hubs – Amazon has eight regional ‘sub-same-day facilities’ – the company also reduces the turnaround time for same-day deliveries. 

Smaller retailers who don’t have the extensive distribution networks of major players like Amazon can do their part by shipping from existing retail stores. Companies with existing brick-and-mortar shops can use them as micro fulfillment centers. 

An Accenture report titled ‘The Sustainable Last Mile – Faster, Cheaper, Greener’ shows how urban hub shipping could lower retail emissions between 17% and 26% by 2025.

Four sustainable delivery practices to transform retail

“Using local fulfillment for even half of e-commerce orders could lead to significant impacts,” the report states. 

4. Switch to sustainable packaging

Plastic packaging adds to the growing heap of the world’s waste. While only 16% is recycled, a staggering 40% ends up in a landfill, and 25% is incinerated, according to a McKinsey report

In August, Amazon announced that it would remove the additional cover on packages. This is done by implementing the Ship In Own Container (SIOC) program. The retail giant also reduced its single-use plastic packaging by 11.6%, and replaced padded bags with sustainable alternatives. 

This has resulted in the elimination of approximately 1.5 million tons of packaging. Amazon says this is part of its plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040

“Amazon recognizes the urgent action needed to limit the global rise in temperature and have set one of the world’s most ambitious timelines to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 – a decade ahead of what is required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

NOW READ: Amazon thinks out of the box, removes packaging

About the author

Cheryl has contributed to various international publications, with a fervor for data and technology. She explores the intersection of emerging tech trends with logistics, focusing on how digital innovations are reshaping industries on a global scale. When she's not dissecting the latest developments in AI-driven innovation and digital solutions, Cheryl can be found gaming, kickboxing, or navigating the novel niches of consumer gadgetry.