While COVID-19 has taken the spotlight away from other pressing issues, sustainability remains a massive priority for consumers. A survey in 2020 found that 57% of UK online shoppers worry that the rise in online shopping is a significant threat to the environment. And their concerns are valid: The World Economic Forum predicts a 30% rise in emissions from last mile deliveries by 2030.

Consumers want to reduce the environmental impact of their online shopping. Metapack’s Ecommerce Delivery Benchmark 2021, a partnership with RetailX, shows that 32% of consumers value sustainable delivery more than the practical factors they once favored. A further 47% is willing to wait longer for sustainable delivery.

Retailers that can help consumers lower the environmental impact of their online shopping will find themselves with a huge differentiator in 2021 and beyond.

Offer greener Delivery Options at checkout

The most straightforward way to help consumers achieve this ambition is simply by offering more eco-friendly modes of delivery, like bicycles, electric vehicles and portering. But sustainability is a delicate area. While there’s a huge consumer appetite for greener online shopping, consumers are slightly less enthusiastic when it comes to the comprises that can entail.

When asked directly, only 23% said they would be willing to accept a higher cost for a more sustainable delivery. However, when allowed to specify themselves how much more they would be willing to pay on a scale starting at 0%, 93% said they would be willing to pay at least somewhat more. 19% said they would be able to pay up to an additional 10% of the product cost. Consumers really want more sustainable delivery, but they also want to remain in control of the sacrifices they make along the way.

That’s why offering green delivery options at checkout is a win-win. It puts the customer back in the driver’s seat. When presented with a range of options catering to different preferences, consumers can weigh their decision against other factors like cost, speed and convenient – factors which, at the end of the day, are still hugely important. And when the consumer decides to select the more eco-friendly option, they feel more ownership over the CO2 reduction and a greater sense of pride. For the retailer, sustainable delivery options becomes a key value proposition and differentiator in a crowded marketplace.

We hear from retailers across the industry that are keen to make the switch but find it difficult due to operational or technical constraints across their supply chain and ecommerce platforms. Where we can help is in providing a flexible Delivery Options solution that allows retailers to diversify their partner network easily, simply by ‘switching-on’ sustainable delivery as part of a broad range of delivery options, all via one integration.

Reduce emissions through out of home collection

Another effective way to help consumers shrink their shopping footprint is by educating them on eco-friendly delivery options which they may not perceive as such, like out of home delivery.

According to the academic paper Home Delivery vs Parcel Lockers: an economic and environmental assessment, out of home delivery such as PUDOs and lockers can be as much as 2/3 less harmful for the environment compared to home delivery, simply on the basis that less emissions are produced delivering many parcels to one location compared to many parcels to many locations.

Positioning these as more eco-friendly delivery options involves doing a better job of marketing them to customers at checkout. Our own insight shows that retailers who emphasize out of home delivery options at checkout consistently outperform their segment of the industry. Providing an elegant solution to select this delivery option also helps. No one wants to support multiple carrier integrations at checkout, so having the right technology in place to support this is vital.

Click and collect: a win-win for consumers and retailers

Click and collect is another mode of delivery many of our retail customers are expanding. In doing so, retailers can offer a less carbon-intensive form of delivery, while also increasing footfall into their stores and driving sales in the process. As retailers try to entice shoppers back into their physical real estate post-COVID, Click and collect will become especially valuable. It costs less, it’s better for the environment, and when done well, is something consumers love – so what’s stopping you?

For online retailers making the switch to eco-friendly delivery, the benefits go far beyond reducing their environmental footprint. As ecommerce sales have grown in the last twelve months, so too has competition on the channel. The cost of acquiring customers is rising, and any way retailers can meaningfully differentiate themselves will make the world of difference.

Consumers are more willing than ever to reduce their impact on the environment – a willingness that has remained strong despite the stressors of COVID-19. The transition towards sustainable delivery is already underway, and it’s one of those rare scenarios where everyone wins.

For more insights to thrive in the All-Delivery economy, read the Metapack Ecommerce Delivery Benchmark Report 2021.