A Sustainable Approach to eCommerce


Technology is changing the retail landscape as we know it. The Census Bureau estimates that U.S. online retail sales were $97.3 million in 2nd quarter 2016, a 15.8% increase from the previous year. According to Forrester, that expansion is expected to continue with U.S. online retail revenue expected to surpass $520 billion by 2020.

Globally, online sales are growing three times faster than GDP. Internet shopping has been combined with conventional shopping trips. According to this Online Shopper study’s 2016 UPS Pulse, 38% of buys incorporate internet research or purchase along with shop visits, and purchases are shipped by half of the surveyed respondents.

Navigating New eCommerce Challenges

As more shoppers click to buy, the demand for a seamless shopping experience lands on retailers, and oftentimes the attempt comes at a greater cost to the environment. Merchants face the challenge of supplying quicker and easier shipping and return options, in addition to the expectation that returning a product should be convenient and as straightforward as getting it.

Transportation produces large quantities of greenhouse gases. eCommerce is less green compared to brick and mortar retail distribution chains; it contributes to larger transportation emissions than traditional imports. Because rather than getting pallets of products delivered to stores in size shipments parcels are shipped to customers. Truckload shipments are greener than van deliveries, and by air is at cheapest of all transportation modes.

Their struggle rests in how to remain profitable while also reaching customers across channels in a sustainable and efficient manner possible as retailers cope with an ever-increasing number of packages that have to be delivered in record time. With goods flowing among production facilities, warehouses, stores, and consumers in several directions, some supply chain models are insufficient. Now’s the time to bring in new practices that are cost-effective, efficient and environmentally aware.

Collaborating to Drive Sustainable Solutions

eCommerce brings with it new possibilities, in addition to fresh concerns to yields on everything from packaging and fulfillment. Businesses are partnering to decrease impact and improve operating efficiencies.

For instance, there are consumer-friendly services readily available, such as UPS My Choice and UPS Access Point, that allow residential customers to modify their delivery times and locations, in addition to providing access to a comprehensive network which provides customers with new ways to get deliveries at an alternative location. This is particularly essential for deliveries to apartments or other urban surroundings. These solutions help shoppers eliminate the environmental impact associated with wasted trips brought on by multiple delivery attempts and avoid missed deliveries.

Supply chain professionals understand that supply chain applications can help companies attain sustainability targets while providing a good ROI. Transportation management software is a good example. Routing them cleverly and by loading trucks fully, products are delivered at lower cost and with reduced CO2 emissions. Inventory optimization allows inventory to be located across a community to achieve targeted service levels, while reducing the amount of inventory held along with the distance it ends up being shipped.

Packaged goods have a better prospect of arriving intact, reducing the number of yields and the overall footprint. When a shipment is packed properly and arrives undamaged, no substitute products will need to be picked, no transportation is required to replace the product, and no items need to be managed, recycled, or sent to a landfill.

Packaging made from renewable materials helps to reduce the environmental impact and reduce waste while demonstrating to clients that considerate and ethical practices are being used by the company.

Moving Toward Sustainable eCommerce

Here are a few ways the changes taking place to drive results can be navigated by retailers:

  • Firms evolving to meet the demand for eCommerce must re-evaluate current supply chains that were created to support in-store deliveries. eCommerce brings with it new challenges which have an increase in deliveries and complexities associated with product yields.
  • By identifying regions where environmental challenges and service needs converge, and exploring new ways to drive efficiencies and decrease impact, solutions which address both environmental and business goals can be created by companies.
  • The flow of products throughout supply chains generates a tremendous amount of information. By partnering with a logistics provider that can tap into the power of the information, retailers can gain insight into customer requirements and trends, learn about hidden issues, and also fine-tune supply chain movement to ensure valuable assets like re-sellable returns do not get lost or overlooked.
  • Technology has made innovation and collaboration even more powerful. While cooperation between service providers and merchants can be effective, allowing them to participate in delivery options and providing greater choices to eCommerce customers can help to build confidence and trust.

Companies that are willing to comprehend the area of their carbon footprint are subsequently able to take the required actions to handle and reduce what they can and mitigate the remaining emissions. This demonstrates business concerns that go beyond capturing revenue. This type of positioning can help give a competitive edge when driving consumer preference and encourage the company’s reputation.

The shift into eCommerce has brought new expectations for instant gratification, and with that, improved influences as retailers attempt to meet with those requirements. When firms are willing to invest in creating solutions to satisfy the evolving requirements of today’s shopper, then they’ll see a return on their investment.