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GUEST COMMENT Do consumers really care about sustainable deliveries?


As consumers become increasingly environmentally conscious, businesses of all kinds must adopt more sustainable practices. The delivery sector, in particular, has come under scrutiny due to the rise of ecommerce and the resulting increase in package deliveries. This has raised concerns about the industry’s environmental impact. More deliveries = more carbon, surely? (Hint – not necessarily).

That being said, this topic of conversation has been somewhat diluted by discussions around how consumer behaviour is changing in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

Rebecca Young, marketing and content executive at Zedify

When it comes to clicking ‘Add to basket’ on that online order, what’s the most important factor for consumers right now? Rebecca Young, marketing and content executive at Zedify, expands in the below article.

The importance of sustainable deliveries
The move to make the delivery sector sustainable is having a significant positive impact on the environment – the UK’s transportation sector is responsible for 24% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and the rise of ecommerce has only worsened the problem. It seems obvious, then, that companies should help to limit the damage caused to the environment by reducing the environmental impact of their deliveries. This is why many businesses are now focusing on sustainable practices, such as using electric vehicles and alternative delivery methods, such as cargo bike deliveries. Many businesses remain concerned that these ‘green’ alternatives will be more costly and some ask themselves – is it really worth the switch?

Still, when consumers are asked if they care about sustainability, the overwhelming response is ‘yes’. In a 2020 McKinsey US consumer survey, more than 60 percent of respondents said they would pay more for a product with sustainable packaging.

Packaging, materials and garment workers’ pay has rightly had a lot of the sustainability limelight in recent years and consumer knowledge on these matters has increased. What needs more work, though, is educating buyers on their delivery options. Although people may think they’re buying a ‘green’ product, they would be shocked to find out the carbon tonnage attached to the van that dropped off their ‘eco-friendly’ parcel. However, consumers are cottoning on and demanding better.

The cost factor
Whilst sustainable methods can often be more expensive, the more efficient and innovative models mean new market entrants are easily able to match traditional companies (such as Royal Mail and DPD) on price. Consumers may also be hesitant to pay extra for sustainable deliveries, especially if they are on a tight budget. However, many consumers are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products and services.

A study by Nielsen found that more than three-quarters of consumers are willing to pay extra for such options, and the awareness of sustainable practices continues to be bolstered by mainstream media outlets – as well as social media – which is influencing consumers to great extents.

Will green deliveries increase consumer loyalty?
Implementing sustainable delivery practices has economic benefits in addition to environmental ones. By reducing the environmental impact of deliveries, businesses are able to improve their ESG (environmental, sustainability and governance) reputation and appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. This can lead to increased customer loyalty and ultimately, increased revenue.

Equally – sustainable practices can also lead to long-term cost savings. For example, using electric cargo bikes can lead to significant savings on fuel costs over time, and as they’re often quicker in urban environments compared to bulky diesel vehicles, delivery times are greatly reduced.

So, by investing in sustainable practices, companies often find that whilst they’re reducing their environmental impact, they’re also saving money in the immediate term (and the long run too).

What else do eco-conscious consumers care about?
Other sustainable practices have increased customer loyalty across businesses, particularly in the fashion world. For example, Patagonia, a clothing company, has made sustainability a core part of its business model. They have implemented sustainable practices such as using organic cotton and recycled materials in their products, and they donate a portion of their profits to environmental causes. As a result, they have a truly loyal customer base that shares their ethics and values.

Another example is Ikea. The iconic Swedish homewares (and meatballs) giant has made sustainability a key part of their business strategy. They have implemented sustainable practices such as using renewable energy sources in their stores and reducing waste in their supply chain. They have also trialled numerous green delivery practices, including a solar powered cargo bike. This has led to increased customer loyalty and improved sales across the board.

The bottom line
Consumers’ preference for environmentally friendly options is ever-growing. Businesses that prioritise sustainability are benefitting from increased customer loyalty and cost savings, particularly amongst the Gen Z and millennial generations.

As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, consumers do too. Companies are beginning to see the value of sustainable practices and their appeal to consumers, and are readily reaping the rewards of adding them to their repertoire – numerous successful businesses have implemented sustainable practices and seen the benefits of increased customer loyalty. As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, businesses that grow sustainably will have a competitive advantage over those that do not, and green deliveries are already playing a big part in this.

Rebecca Young, marketing and content executive at Zedify

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