TECHNOLOGY

Tech Viewpoint: Three ‘green’ delivery strategies that save retailers green

BY Dan Berthiaume

Sustainable e-commerce delivery practices can create more than one type of “green” result.

An increasing number of prominent e-commerce retailers are introducing environmentally friendly components to their delivery programs. While these efforts help make deliveries more green in terms of reducing total carbon footprint and traffic congestion, they can also produce savings of green dollars.

Here are three popular sustainable delivery processes that can be good for an e-commerce retailer’s bottom line, as well as their environmental efficiency.

Combining deliveries into a single day
E-commerce retailers both big (Amazon) and small (Farmstead) are offering regular customers the opportunity to select one standard day per week to receive all their orders at once. For customers, combining deliveries like this makes receiving orders much more predictable and convenient.

For the environment, a single-day delivery reduces the number of vehicles that have to be on the road to get packages to the customers that ordered them. In some cases, retailers are able to consolidate deliveries of multiple items into fewer packages, meaning even more goods can fit into a single vehicle and also reducing the amount of packaging that winds up in the waste stream.

Combined single-day deliveries also produce a handy cost savings for e-commerce retailers. Expenditures related to fuel, labor, distribution systems, general vehicle wear and tear, and possibly packaging are all reduced.

Generating more savings from packaging
Combined deliveries already offer e-commerce retailers the potential to reduce the cost of packaging the items consumers order. But by re-examining packaging itself, as Amazon is doing, retailers can further cut delivery expenses while aiding the environment.

E-commerce retailers can make efforts to use smaller and/or lighter weight materials for packaging customer orders, or even in product packaging for private label items. Both Walmart and Amazon are including efforts to reduce packaging waste as part of broader carbon initiatives.

In addition, retailers can collaboratively work with their suppliers to reduce the volume of packaging used in deliveries, as Amazon does in its “Frustration-Free Packaging” program. The end result is a reduction in the amount of primarily paper- and plastic-based material that needs to be created to ship products or recycled after they are delivered. The environment, and net profits, benefit.

Delivery, hold the gas and driver
2019 may prove to be the year of the autonomous electric delivery vehicle. Since the beginning of the year, companies including Amazon, Stop & Shop, and FedEx have piloted battery-powered, self-driving vehicles to make deliveries.

Autonomous electric vehicles offer retailers the chance to save significant costs in driver wages and fuel expenses. Also, self-driving vehicles have a much better driving record than trucks and vans with humans behind the wheel. In the addition to eliminating carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuel, these vehicles can eliminate expenditures from the delivery budget.

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