Electronic commerce is a bridge between digitization and a more sustainable economy. Today, it has become a sector in constant evolution and growth, subject to the rise of new technologies, ideas and constant changes in the consumption habits of society. This growth in the sector must become an opportunity to create more sustainable and environmentally friendly business models.
In this context, according to recent studies by “The German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt – UBA)”, the processes used in e-commerce packaging and transport represent between 1-10% of emissions. Faced with this situation, Seven Senders, a shipping platform in Europe, presents a study on sustainability and good practice in e-commerce in which it is detailed that most of the emissions generated in electronic commerce correspond to the transport process .
Thus, the key element for the more sustainable transformation of electronic commerce is the change in consumer habits and the reduction of the environmental impact caused by transport. Currently, the population as a whole is much more aware of the importance of promoting changes that focus in caring for and respecting the planet, thus demonstrating its concern to reduce the ecological footprint and fight against climate change. This change is also transferred when consuming in a more sustainable way.
In this sense, the Seven Senders study points out that, according to data relating to online buyers from European countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, 70% of users are willing to pay more money if shipments are sustainable. This figure, which in 2021 stood at 54%, shows that awareness is increasing by leaps and bounds.
The importance of consumer awareness
The study shows that best practice is good user orientation. Providing the consumer with information regarding the environmental impact generated by shipments quadruples the chances that a sustainable shipping option will be chosen.
On the other hand, online retailing depends on the cooperation of its customers to achieve its climate goals.
Online commerce vs traditional commerce
Online commerce wants to reduce its impact on the planet, although compared to traditional commerce, its environmental impact is less. The calculated CO2 emissions per product sold on the Internet are lower by a factor of mean of 2.3. However, there is still room for improvement in terms of the environmental impact of online shopping. Most of the emissions emitted by online sales come from transport, both first and last mile. Specifically, according to the study, the emissions caused in the transport process represent between 35% and 65% of the total environmental impact of e-commerce.
The CO₂ neutral logistics solutions are still contemplated in the distant future. However, the planet needs quick and effective solutions. The Seven Senders study suggests that creating sustainable strategies can be a competitive advantage as well as a growth driver for e-commerce retailers that act in a responsible manner.
Thanks to the economies of scale of logistics in e-commerce, as well as the consumption habits of the different European markets, even an expansion can have a positive impact on the carbon footprint. In any case, Thomas Hagemann, founder and co-CEO of Seven Senders, sees e-retailers on the road to sustainability. «No other industry is developing as dynamically as online retail, which knows disruption like no other. Responding to consumer wishes from the outset and implementing them quickly and efficiently is one of its strengths. The intense debate on the protection of the environment and the climate, as well as greater sustainability in consumption, can once again be used by e-retailers to grow and gain strength«.