4 Steps Every Brand Can Take to Make Deliveries More Sustainable

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Deliveries have a major impact on the environment – there are no two ways about it. Over the past few years, we’ve noticed more delivery vans on the roads. We’ve received parcels with far too much packaging, cursing to ourselves as we try to cram them into our already-loaded recycling bins. Retailers can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed by just how much they need to change their businesses in order to become greener – from the sourcing of products, to energy waste and supply chain considerations, the list goes on.

However, the fact remains – customers are craving sustainability in eCommerce. 6 out of 10 shoppers are willing to change their online habits if it means reducing environmental impact. So while there is a mountain to climb, taking steps to make your deliveries greener is a great place to start your sustainability journey.

 

Here are 5 changes, both big and small, that retailers can implement to make their deliveries more sustainable:

1: Get Orders Right the First Time Around

Package returns are responsible for about a quarter of all eCommerce emissions. Prevention is better than cure, so it’s vital to do what you can to reduce your return rate. First and foremost, you should actively inform your customers of the impact of wardrobing -. over-buying items with the intention of returning them. One surefire way of doing this is to simply stop offering free returns, and be open with your customers about your motivations for making such a radical change. 

 

You can also focus on helping customers to get their orders right the first time around, by implementing some of the following:

Better product pages

 

You need to provide customers with an accurate representation of your products. Context plays a big part here, especially as far as product photography goes. If you’re selling watches, you need to show shoppers what they look like on a wrist. If you’re selling clothing, you need to let customers know if the sizes run big or small, as well as models’ height, size, etc.

Customer reviews and UGC

 

Another way to improve your product pages is by including customer reviews and user-generated content (photos, videos, etc.) This social proof helps customers to make better choices around fit, quality, and any other concerns that typically lead to returned items. In fact, 92% of consumers consider UGC as a quality marker as to whether or not they should make a purchase.

Use your data

 

Regularly cross-reference the data you collect on your returns forms with the sizing charts/product descriptions displayed on your store. If you’re a multi-brand retailer, chances are that sizing charts will differ from brand to brand and category to category. So it’s important to make sure that you’re catching any returns trends that emerge and make changes accordingly. AI and AR can also play a blinder in assuming the role of the helpful sales assistant too – not for the purpose of upselling, but rather helping customers to make wiser buying decisions.

2: Flip the Script With Your Delivery Options

86% of consumers prefer when retailers offer a variety of delivery speeds at checkout. But giving multiple shipping options doesn’t necessarily mean that customers will choose the greenest one. Similar to putting an end to free returns, you could simply just remove next-day delivery, or replace it with a more sustainable option, such as timed-delivery slots – again making it crystal clear to your customers why you’ve come to the decision.

 

If you are continuing to offer next-day delivery, consider changing the language you use around it – for example “Do you need this order by tomorrow? Choose standard shipping instead, and you’ll receive your package in 5 days and help to reduce our carbon emissions by X kg)”. Same goes for orders for multiple items that may be dispatched separately due to stock delays  – “Choose to ship all items together and you’ll help save on packaging and reduce our carbon footprint”.

 

This doesn’t have to be about shaming customers, it’s about educating them to make decisions that they may not have without understanding the bigger picture.

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3: Offset Emissions at Checkout

There are plenty of eCommerce plugins on the market that can be integrated into your store to give customers the chance to make their orders carbon neutral. How this typically works is:

 

1 –  A carbon calculator determines the cost of offsetting emissions relating to the product 

manufacturing and shipping of an order

2 – A small cost is added to the total at checkout (generally 1-2%)

3 – The customer has the option to check a box to pay the additional cost

 

The offset funding then goes into projects such as forest protection, water purification, wind farms, etc. Retailers can also choose to pay the offset fees on behalf of customers if they wish. 

 

While this option clearly helps the planet, it also runs the risk of being implemented by companies who want to be seen to be doing good, rather than actually tackling a core issue. For example, if a fast-fashion brand offered carbon offsetting at checkout, it would reek of greenwashing. So if you’re integrating something like this into your store, it has to align with your own brand values. 

4: Let Reporting Lead the Way

There are plenty of eCommerce plugins on the market that can be integrated into your store to give customers the chance to make their orders carbon neutral. How this typically works is:

 

1 –  A carbon calculator determines the cost of offsetting emissions relating to the product 

manufacturing and shipping of an order

2 – A small cost is added to the total at checkout (generally 1-2%)

3 – The customer has the option to check a box to pay the additional cost

 

The offset funding then goes into projects such as forest protection, water purification, wind farms, etc. Retailers can also choose to pay the offset fees on behalf of customers if they wish. 

While this option clearly helps the planet, it also runs the risk of being implemented by companies who want to be seen to be doing good, rather than actually tackling a core issue. For example, if a fast-fashion brand offered carbon offsetting at checkout, it would reek of greenwashing. So if you’re integrating something like this into your store, it has to align with your own brand values. 

Want to learn more about how you can improve your delivery reporting to learn more about your customers?  Talk to us today.

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AUTHOR

Michelle McSweeney Content Marketer

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