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ECOmmerce? New concepts for sustainable shipping

By Sponsor

30 Aug 2021


Sustainability has become a big topic in e-commerce. On the one hand, more and more customers are paying attention to sustainability when shopping online and call for extra options from retailers. On the other hand, retailers increasingly see themselves as responsible for operating more ecologically. Online retailers in the fashion industry also know that sustainability is a hot topic. This makes it all the more important for retailers to create new concepts for their shops.

Farewell plastic

Last year, 4.05 billion courier, express and parcel shipments were sent in Germany alone, according to the Federal Association for Parcel and Express Logistics (BIEK). Very often products are wrapped in plastic and additionally protected with bubble wrap. Packaging for shipping and the production of these packaging materials thus cause tons of waste and emissions. For this reason, sustainable packaging concepts are an important step towards more sustainable retail. This can be achieved by retailers using alternatives to plastic film.

For example, instead of using plastic air pads, traders can use old newspapers and old wrapping paper as filling material. Wood wool, corrugated padding and cushioning chips made of corn starch could also be used. In addition, shipping bags should, if possible, be designed to be used multiple times. For example, by offering a free drop-off service for end customers. The bags are then reprocessed and used again for shipping the next order.

This would also be possible with shipping boxes. Stronger cardboard packaging can be reused. Durable plastic boxes, made from recyclable materials, that can be reused several hundred times are also a good alternative. This saves resources used to produce cardboard boxes. Paper tape instead of plastic tape is also preferable for sustainable shipping. Last but not least, it also means reducing the amount of packaging material. And here the size of the consignment plays a decisive role.

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Adjusting the sizing of packages

E-commerce companies do not always ship their products in suitably sized packages. Often, cardboard boxes are far too large for the contents. This has several negative effects on sustainability: not only is much more packaging material used than necessary, but the size of the packages also has multiple effects on the various transport routes – from the first mile, to the last.

The larger the shipment, the more space it takes in delivery vehicles. Empty runs are one of the biggest problems in sustainable shipping. For one oversized parcel, a delivery driver could distribute several smaller parcels. So, an unnecessarily large parcel causes delivery vehicles to make more trips than would really be necessary. E-commerce companies should therefore optimise packaging and adapt shipping materials to the actual product size. This helps to avoid empty runs and enables sustainable shipping routes. If you want to make your packaging more sustainable and at the same time ship more efficiently, PARCEL.ONE offers you, with PARCEL Check, a service that finds the ideal size and the best carrier for ecological shipping for each of your shipments.

Awareness: Sensitise customers to sustainable shipping

Sustainability is as well a matter of conscious action. For this reason, online retailers should also try to sensitise their customers to the topic. One possibility is to indicate the ecological footprint of an order in terms of emissions. Above all, however, the topic of returns should be addressed. It is particularly important to reduce these in the online fashion industry. Through better product descriptions, innovative online features, and a more conscious approach to shipping costs for returns, retailers can avoid incorrect orders and unnecessary returns. In doing so, retailers in the fashion industry not only act more efficiently, but the environment also benefits from this ecological approach. Another positive side effect is that retailers also increase customer loyalty – a WIN-WIN situation for everyone.