From increased use of recycled and reusable packaging materials to eco-friendly shipping options with lower carbon footprints, today’s consumers are looking for sustainability when it comes to last-mile parcel delivery. Retailers and e-tailers are working to keep up with the expectations, but costs and managing eco-friendly shipping can be challenging.

Online Shopping and Sustainability

Consumers will be shopping online this holiday season, with as many as 90% of US consumers planning to make at least some purchases online—a 13% jump from 2020. And many will be looking for sustainable and eco-friendly options.

An IBM and NRF survey from 2020 found that nearly 80% of consumers from 29 countries said sustainability is important when shopping. The study also found that 57% are willing to change their shopping habits to be more sustainable. In addition, more than 70% of consumers who report that sustainability is very or extremely important are willing to pay a 35 %premium for more sustainable and environmentally responsible products.

Even credit card companies are helping consumers quantify the environmental impact of purchases.

Visa recently introduced Visa Eco Benefits, which will launch in Europe this year and be available globally next year. The service gives Visa issuers to add benefits for sustainability to Visa cardholder credit and debit policies that already exist.

Some of the benefits include a carbon footprint calculator, carbon offsets that allow users to improve greenhouse gas emissions impacts, rewards for sustainable behaviors, education, and more.

Rising Expectation for Sustainable Shipping

While consumers are shopping for environmentally friendly products, the quest for sustainability doesn’t stop at the online shopping cart.

According to Omnitracs, LLC, “Delivering on Demand: Consumer 2021 Insights Survey, 40% of respondents want more eco-friendly delivery options, such as electric trucks available when shopping online. Additionally, consumers are willing to embrace new delivery technology and methods that might reduce carbon emissions. For example, as many as 45% of those surveyed said they are open to seeing drones used for last-mile delivery to help speed deliveries while reducing the impact on the environment. 

What Retailers are Doing to Ship Sustainably:

Prioritizing Eco-Friendly Packaging:

From utilizing recycled and recyclable packing materials-- including some switching from cardboard to plastic—to reducing fill and waste through cartonization, retailers are cutting their carbon footprint by packing efficiently.

Omnichannel Shipping Strategy:

If you can shorten the distance from distribution to doorstep, you can cut your carbon footprint. An omnichannel shipping strategy can reduce the environmental impact of deliveries. It can also cut time and reduce costs, adding to the benefits for shippers, allowing them to meet multiple customer expectations.

Multi-Carrier Network:

Going hand-in-hand with an omnichannel strategy, the ability for retailers and eCommerce players to offer last-mile delivery carrier options that include national, regional, and local carriers can increase the environmentally conscious choices. Perhaps it is a bike or scooter in the city or a carrier with low carbon emissions or electric vehicles in its fleet that can help not only help the planet but also get consumers to purchase from your site and stay loyal to the brand.  


To learn more about managing a sustainable shipping experience for your customers, contact us today!