In the past, environmental activism targeting specific consumer behaviours has gained greater traction when influenced by three forces – increased consumer education, public figures who champion the cause and removal of friction to enable consumers to make better choices.
Recent examples of environmental movements targeting consumer behaviours include the rejection of plastic straws and bags, reusable coffee cups, city bicycle schemes and plant-based diets.
All of these programmes and campaigns have benefitted from the three influencing forces.
Think of the influence David Attenborough, Craig Reucassel and Arnold Schwarzenegger have had on these topics and the increased consumer awareness they have generated.
You may not agree with them all, but in each example, there has been groundswell activity once all three boxes have been ticked.
Looking around us, what might be the next consumer behaviour targeted for reform for the betterment of our environment?
Since the early days of COVID-19, there has been a dramatic uplift in ecommerce transactions, increasing 80% year-on-year in just eight weeks, and a staggering increase in the number of home deliveries.
However, there’s been little attention paid to what impact these home deliveries have on our environment. It’s an issue that’s been missing out on the three forces of education, integrity and emphasis on choice.
One in five (20%) consumers say their purchase decisions are influenced by the environmental impact of the manufacturing and supply of goods.
This value doubles for consumers aged 18-29, with 40% being influenced by the environmental impact.
The research also revealed that almost one in five (18%) consumers believe that online shopping has a negative impact on the environment, yet younger shoppers are more environmentally aware, with almost one in three (31%) believing it has a negative impact.
How can ecommerce be made more sustainable?
Despite the concern consumers say they have about the environmental impact of their ecommerce habits, home delivery still dominates in Australia to the tune of 90%.
This is despite there being a growing range of other more considered delivery options such as click & collect or pick-up, drop-off (PUDO).
The reason these are more considered options is they remove the need for a courier to drive to individual addresses to deliver parcels.
50 parcels can be delivered to one location, instead of 50 stops at individual addresses. Reducing the number of vans needed on our roads each day to keep up with our insatiable online shopping habits.
An example of these alternative delivery options is the Australia Post Collect & Return service, which enables consumers to choose from over 4500 locations Australia-wide to have their delivery made to including Post Offices, parcel lockers as well as supermarkets, pharmacies and specialty retailers.
To change the imbalance of deliveries to home vs other options, retailers have a huge opportunity to take the lead in educating consumers, championing the cause and removing the friction from that consumer choice.
Doing so will give consumers what they want, more environmentally friendly delivery options.
In Australia, we have some great examples to follow on this path. For instance, in Scandinavia 70% of deliveries are to PUDO locations.
In Sweden, Zalando’s (a major ecommerce marketplace) checkout experience asks the customer which area they live in and then offers them the locations for pickup accordingly, it doesn’t even ask for a delivery address.
If you do want a ‘home delivery’ you pay a premium, typically €5.
We’ve already seen marketplaces and independent brands in Australia make great strides in providing items that have been responsibly sourced and manufactured, highlighting these products and making them easily searchable to consumers.
Some are also stepping up their game in terms of the packaging they use to reduce plastic waste. Delivery is the final piece in the ecommerce puzzle, but it’s an important one.
We all benefit from getting this right and the best place for retailers to start is to increase consumer education, champion the cause and remove the friction.
Justin Dery is the APAC CEO at Doddle. He joined Doddle in 2017 to establish the first international expansion in Australia. He is responsible for managing Doddle’s regional go-to-market strategy, including managing its key partnership with Australia Post. Justin is also responsible for business development of Doddle’s proprietary technology platform with major retailers through Asia Pacific. Prior to joining Doddle, Justin was founder and CEO of Coverpoint Marketing Group, a full-service digital and brand management agency based in Sydney.