June 14, 2023

Sustainable Home Delivery: A Conversation with Descartes


Last week, I sat down to speak with Chris Jones, Executive Vice President, Industry and Services at Descartes Systems Group about sustainable home delivery.  Home delivery and sustainability are two topics that I have written about quite a bit in the last few years, and Descartes just released its home delivery sustainability consumer sentiment study, so the timing seemed perfect.

I asked Chris to give some deeper insights on a few key points. First, why is there so much interest in sustainability and home delivery? Second, do you see consumers increasing online buying and have it delivered to the home? Third, are consumers more or less interested in sustainable home delivery? Fourth, what types of sustainable delivery options get consumers’ attention? And finally, what do consumers think of retailer sustainable delivery performance and how are they acting when they are disappointed with it?

Here are the key points from our discussion. You can watch the full interview below.

Interest in Sustainable Home Delivery

The consumer, and their interest in sustainability and home delivery is the real driving force. For the last two years, Descartes has been doing a benchmark study around consumer sentiment, where the company is trying to gage interest in sustainability and home delivery. By doing the study for multiple years, you can start to see trends emerging. From the latest results, just about half of consumers are looking for retailers to have sustainable delivery options to help the environment.

The Continued Growth of E-Commerce

In the study, Descartes looked at e-commerce from three different angle: buy online pick-up in store, buy online go get it at a locker, and buy online and have it delivered. Home delivery was the top choice among the majority of respondents. The main driver for home delivery is convenience. The last few years got more people to buy items online, they now recognize the convenience of having it delivered. And this spans across a wide range of product categories.

Consumer Reaction to Sustainable Home Delivery

Consumers are now more interested in sustainable home delivery. According to the study, consumers will buy more from retailers and companies that have demonstrated a strong sustainability ethic, including differentiated sustainability services. The interest is there and age makes a difference. Younger consumers, especially, have a much stronger interest in sustainable delivery options.

Sustainable Delivery Options

There are a couple of really simple sustainable delivery options, as well as some that are a bit more complicated. One example is that consumers can combine deliveries on a single day if you are buying from Amazon or Walmart. Traditionally, items are shipped immediately after purchase; but companies are now combining orders from the week into a single delivery day.

Additionally, companies are now giving consumers more options for delivery. And in these options, consumers can see what is the most sustainable option for them. More and more, consumers are looking at the delivery method that results in the lowest carbon footprint.

Sustainable Delivery Performance

The key question is how to consumers respond when a retailer does not meet expectations of sustainable delivery. The study shows that on average, about 25 percent of consumers would walk away from that retailer or would not recommend that retailer to family or friends on the future. There is a lot less tolerance in non-sustainable deliveries, and more and more consumers will post online about a disappointing experience.

Retailers need to look at sustainability as the opportunity that it presents. Retailers need to look at how sustainability can boost net promoter scores. The options that consumers want for home delivery, outside of carbon-neutral shipping, results directly in lower delivery costs for the retailer.

About Descartes

Descartes is a supply chain logistics company. Its customers fall into two buckets: logistics is their business or is really important to their business. The company’s logistics platform digitally combines the an expansive logistics network with a broad array of supply chain and logistics management applications and global trade intelligence services. It helps get inventory, information, assets, and people where they’re needed, when they’re needed, safely and securely.



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