How Green is Express Delivery ?

Ecommerce DeliveryHave you ever thought about the “greenness”  of super fast delivery ?

Is it more economic to have an empty van delivery product in 2 hours to clients – maybe driving into the same complex 3 times a day.

Or have the 1 van deliver 1 time a day to a complex. ?

Or have the 1 van a day deliver to a parcel hub at the entrance to a complex. ?

The vans use energy – if its clean energy wind or solar or dirty ( electricity generated by coal oil gas ) or diesel – its energy. The more you use the more impact it has.

Electric Vans use more more tyres as they have a heavier unladen weight than a petrol or diesel van because of the weight of the batteries. The issue is people not being able to afford the expensive recommended EV tyre ( rated for heavier loads ) and going for a cheaper tyre that lasts shorter because of the additional weight and more torque from EV motors. Hence more tyres consumed.

More “green” approaches can be embedded on your ecommerce site that actually make a difference.

Offer a green delivery method ( not 2 hours ) and a “dirty one” ( express same day ). You maybe surprised to see that getting the product in 2 hours is a novelty that most shoppers really seldom require when they have to pay extra for it. Ironically you will be bucking the trend by making the greener option cheaper – when its usually dearer.

When businesses offer incredibly short delivery times – and for free – its a sledge hammer approach to kill off a competitor or prospective entrant. This cost has to be funded from somewhere. Either the customer by paying extra or the company in greatly reduced overheads. If its not subsidized,  the company will not survive long term offering the service as it will be an overhead that cannot scale.

Talking about scaling this is where the issue gets even larger – to scale you need more vans and more drivers to deliver the same amount of products.

In Ireland the disappearance of Parcel Motel and other parcel hubs has been interesting to observe.

These services run on a rental model and the income comes from the shipper and the customer. It seems like a good business model,  a double income stream f0r the operators.  Parcel depots are still popular, but the relative low level of parcel theft has meant that they are not used too much. Delivery companies using the recycle bin is the hack most use.  Parcel hubs cost little to run – a trickle power supply to the keypad to unlock the locker. They are zero maintenance.  The only cost is the installation. In France and the US these lockers are at super markets – so it gives a reason for the customer to visit your store to collect their product.  In my view supermarkets should be providing this service for free. The customer is using their energy to do the last mile delivery.  Its not on the customer to use that journey efficiently an do a grocery shop at the same time.

No matter how you purchase online or offline there is an energy implication. It usually tots up to the same if you fill your car up full – its the half full loads that are costing energy.

The importance of a correct postal address. Make it easy for the customer to enter the correct address in the correct format. Sometimes language barriers mean a customer is entering their address into fields where they do not understand the labels on the fields.

Some tips to make it easier for customers to enter the exact address are :

  1. Post Code Look Ups.
  2. Use My  Location when on a mobile device to fill the address
  3. Allowing Automatic form fillers – e.g lastpass’s auto form fill. Autoaddress.
  4. Iconise the address fields so as language barriers are less of an issue on field labels.
  5. Link in with an address autocomplete service. Its additional payment but way cheaper than the time it takes to re-send a parcel that’s now late and causing reputational damage.
  6. Bad addresses lead to missed deliveries and missed deliveries use  twice the energy used to deliver.

In an ideal world – your postal address and credit card details should be stored together and the eCommerce checkout will have its fields correctly labelled. Its getting better but there is still alot of typing to do, when this information is used over and over again.

So in conclusion – Express delivery when its promised in hours comes at an environmental cost and an increased over head.

Once customers get used to this you now have set a standard that they require you to keep. Missing the time will result in a higher risk of negative reviews and negative message amplification.

I am not against electric vehicles. To quote a well know news reporter – I am against unnecessary journeys.

Author : Sean Owens – an eCommerce build design and operator since 2002.

All content on this site is hand written and manually researched. No Robots where harmed in the creation of this content.

Further reading :

Express Delivery Market Growth to 2027 : Source Research Partners.

China Express Delivery Growth

20 Statistics that Show the Importance of Same-Day Delivery


By | 2023-06-22T23:13:10+00:00 June 22nd, 2023|e commerce, ecommerce|