Sustainability initiatives are an imperative in today's e-commerce world, yet they don't have to endanger profitability, says Dan Nevin, general manager of Inmar Post-Purchase Solutions.
Nevin applauds sustainability initiatives that promote the use of electric vehicles, particularly in delivery of e-commerce orders, but notes that we’re hardly at the point where there are “millions of electric vehicles roaming the streets right now.” So until their use becomes more widespread, what can we do in the meantime? “I think the answer is simply fewer miles.”
For one thing, Nevin says, we can encourage people to pick up things while shopping for other items. They can return unwanted items on such trips as well. He calls that method “consolidated trips.”
He quotes a report that estimates more than 300 billion parcels will be delivered by 2026. “That’s just around the corner. So,if we can just reduce the number of miles that it takes to fulfill e-commerce, then we'll be doing a lot to improve sustainability.”
Nevin feels it’s up to the consumer to make the necessary changes. Instead of home delivery, he would like to see more pick-up-and-drop-off (PUDO) networks available. He says they’ve been “highly successful overseas.”
Unfortunately, most companies aren’t making consumers aware of the most cost-effective and sustainable ways to shop online or return items. “It really comes down to customer adoption and awareness. Otherwise, we won’t see the benefits of reducing miles for fulfillment and returns.”
Such initiatives don’t hurt profitability, he says. “Probably 80% of the entire supply chain cost is in that final mile. So by just having 5% of my customers pick up as an alternative to home delivery, it adds exponentially more value to me than 5%, and it actually doesn't come in an incremental cost.”
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