E-commerce: how one can arrange environmentally accountable logistics?

Sustainable logistics encompasses strategies and processes inside and outside the warehouse, aimed at minimizing the impact of the supply chain on the environment. In this article, we will explore how companies, especially those in the e-commerce sector, can cope with high product demand while striving to reduce waste as well as energy consumption in their logistics.

Environmentally responsible logistics, an emergency in the e-commerce sector

The goal of sustainable logistics is to reduce carbon footprint, pollution and waste at all stagesincluding product manufacturing, warehousing, order preparation and distribution of goods to the end customer.

The explosion of e-commerce has transformed consumer habits, setting new distribution standards that have multiplied the number of trips needed to cater to online shoppers. In this context, companies should not neglect the impact of their actions on the environment, because reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the biggest challenges of our time.

Current shipments and a large number of returns lead to an increase in traffic and thus to pollution. The research and market report on the impact of e-commerce on the environment supports the above argument. He points out that calculating the right amount of emissions that can be attributed to e-commerce depends on several variables. However, choose a service provider with environmental ambitions it will help you reduce your environmental impact as you grow your business.

Ideas for eco-responsible logistics

Regardless of the environmental impact of e-commerce compared to traditional retail, there is no doubt that last mile delivery is the most polluting link in e-commerce. A study conducted for Amazon by consulting firm Oliver Wyman attributes 26% of the CO2 emissions produced by this sector to the last mile.

To this impact on the environment is added the obvious link between the boom in home delivery and the worrying increase in car traffic in big cities. The solution to this problem lies in the revision of e-commerce logistics procedures to enable players in the sector to reduce their environmental footprint.

There are a number of solutions that can be set up moving towards environmentally responsible logistics. Thus, e-commerce companies will be able to reduce the environmental impact associated with e-commerce by restructuring last mile deliveries.

Promote the use of download space

Fast delivery of small orders to your home address is generally one of the main features of an e-commerce distribution system. Home deliveries are needed, which are much more convenient for customers significant daily movements of trucks and vans. The result is a significant increase in CO2 emissions generated by transport and which significantly affect urban transport.

One way to respond to this challenge is to opt for it alternative delivery methods and more sustainable, such as in-store pick-ups, smart lockers and storage spaces. These ideas have an unequivocal advantage: as a company, you can better organize your shipments and consolidate goods along the transport route, significantly reducing the number of movements required for your deliveries.

In addition, this distribution mechanism offers benefits to consumers, giving them maximum flexibility by allowing them to choose when and where they can pick up their packages. By optimizing the efficiency of the order fulfillment process, companies can also use technology. With a warehouse management system, the products shipped are organized.

You can also opt for a management system that allows you to group orders by route and transport agency, simplifying the truck loading process and making delivery planning more efficient.

Prepare orders locally

When the package travels less, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. Therefore, the use of local delivery network contributes to more environmentally responsible logistics for e-commerce companies. The microdistribution centers are a great option for decentralizing distribution and getting closer to end customers.

These centers are located near larger cities and have an obvious advantage: orders can be delivered faster, without long-distance travel, and thus create less pollution. These systems are characterized by a high degree of automation of storage and commissioning.

Implementation of automated solutions such as miniload systems and roller conveyors for boxes, is essential to guarantee fast delivery without errors. With a special strategy, the company takes these different parameters into account and ensures the success of fuel-efficient deliveries.

sales and logistics manager

Reduce return quantities

Returns are very common in the e-commerce industry (and probably one of the biggest headaches). According to the consulting firm McKinsey, in 2020, American consumers returned 10.6% of the products they bought online. This figure can be several times higher in sectors such as the fashion industry (where consumers can buy items of different sizes and then return those that do not suit them).

Reverse logistics has a direct impact on the environment, as required additional transport and fuel, which increases carbon dioxide emissions. How then to limit your returns?

The first step would be to avoid shipping errors, ie to ensure that the customer does not receive the wrong product or defective item. In this perspective, a warehouse management system can help a lot by checking every step of the operation when preparing an order. It also provides better inventory control.

Then it will be necessary to favor orders with sufficient precision and without insinuations. You need to ask customers to be specific in the characteristics of the products they want to buy. Finally, the service provider takes care of that delivery without breaking or damaging the product.

Switch to zero-emission fleets

Another way to reduce the environmental impact of the last kilometer delivery is to switch from a fleet of vehicles to motor combustion to cleaner (electric, for example) or hiring couriers for bicycles.

This is the key to the future of sustainable logistics. To do this, you can now, if you want to reduce the environmental impact of your deliveries start thinking about rebuilding your fleet by focusing on bike delivery.

Ecological management of waste and packaging

In addition to CO2 emissions, the carbon footprint has another enemy: packaging. Delivery of individual orders due to the expansion of e-commerce leads to a larger amount of cardboard, paper and plastic waste. Therefore, it is better to choose the logistics provider he uses packaging made of kraft paper, recyclable and biodegradable materials. Similarly, you can choose to work exclusively with service providers who use only recycled cardboard.

To distribute their orders, environmentally conscious e-retailers use recyclable packaging, which can even be reused for refunds if needed. Some companies use biodegradable packaging and renewable and reusable materials. Also, plastic is a very polluting element, which today, unfortunately, is used by many commercial companies. To reduce its impact, start rejecting the use of plastic tape to wrap boxes of products.

Commitment to sustainable logistics: promoting your actions to customers

The e-commerce revolution goes beyond the economy: it changes consumption habits, the organization of cities, the functioning of logistics, not to mention the questions it raises in terms of environmental impact. Today, the e-commerce sector faces the double challenge of ensuring fast and flexible deliveries while guaranteeing green logistics.

Therefore, it is necessary to include all e-commerce players here, including customers. In the logic of eco-responsible logistics, every e-commerce company must implement customer reassurance strategies.

eco-responsible logistics recycled cardboard

Customer awareness and prospects

Therefore, consumers will need to be explained that this change brings various benefits. Not only does it have a extremely positive impact on the environment, but also helps companies reduce costs, for example by reducing shipping-related travel. Awareness will also pass through banners on your company’s e-commerce site and other advertising posters.

This eco-responsible logistics policy also offers some benefits to customers. There will be products delivered quickly and in good condition. Risks of return have been reduced and environmental protection ensured. This is an advantage they need to be given.

Incentives for eco-responsible customers

The population is increasingly committed to sustainable and ecological development. Companies committed to implementing good environmental practices will strengthen their reputation and be more competitive. You can offer shopping discounts for all customers involved in packaging recycling. Respect the demands of these environmentally responsible customers by managing their orders as quickly as possible.

Organizations are turning to innovation and technology to optimize their logistics processes, increase efficiency and therefore pollute less. Choosing a service provider that favors environmentally responsible solutions reduces your carbon footprint. For e-retailers, environmentally responsible logistics can save money and build a good reputation without sacrificing environmental protection.

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