There’s good news in Descartes’ recent study of consumer sentiment of sustainable delivery practices.
Half of the respondents said that they were “quite” or “very” interested in sustainable delivery options — and all the options presented in the study are lower-cost alternatives. The challenge and opportunity for retailers, then, is to recognize that providing sustainable delivery choices results in happier customers and a better bottom line, while simultaneously helping the environment.
Essentially, the study underscores that consumers have sustainable delivery personas, which can be used to increase loyalty as well as top- and bottom-line performance. So, what are delivery personas? The concept of buying personas is widely understood in the retail community as a way to maximize sales by serving various types of purchasing experiences, including for home delivery. In fact, consumers have differing expectations for the latter, and are happiest when they can select the delivery option that’s most consistent with those expectations.
We have previously identified four delivery personas that relate to the speed and precision of a home delivery:
Now, there’s a fifth delivery persona: Sustainability.
The study clearly identified that consumers want eco-friendly delivery options and are quite flexible in terms of such choices when they’re tied to sustainability efforts. Some key findings:
All of these options present retailers with the opportunity to lower their delivery costs by reducing the number of deliveries they must make, increasing delivery density, allowing for better planning with longer lead times, and steering customers to eco-friendly — and lower cost — delivery choices. In addition, the sustainability persona can be combined with other personas — for example, “parcel mentality” or “time is their currency” — to identify the most sustainable delivery options.
Sustainable delivery was so important to some that 20% of respondents said they would pay more for an environmentally friendly delivery. For Gen Z and Millennials, that number increased to 27%. This might not sound like a significant percentage, but there are retailers who have realized millions of dollars in incremental revenue by up-charging willing customers for premium services.
Consumers don’t just want eco-friendly delivery. Forty-two percent of those surveyed also want retailers to provide details around the potential environmental consequences of their options. Here, the sustainability message goes beyond retailers to the logistics industry as a whole, including parcel carriers, less-than-truckload (LTL) and dedicated last-mile service providers, to encompass the total carbon footprint of home delivery.
Sustainability has become a distinct and important delivery persona. In response, retailers need to abandon monolithic approaches to home delivery, and provide consumers with choices that are priced accordingly and allow consumers to self-select the option that best fits their desires. Many consumers will happily opt for one that results in lower costs and increased revenue for the retailer. And nearly half of those surveyed want retailers to identify the most sustainable delivery options. It’s only fitting, then, that Descartes chose to name the study “Retailers: Sustainability Is Not a Challenge — It’s an Opportunity.”
Chris Jones is executive vice president of industry and service at Descartes.
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.