Logistics: widely viewed as one of the most energy-guzzling, carbon-emitting sectors to exist. Historically, it’s struggled to get any sustainable credentials truly off the ground, particularly during a time where retailers are thrusting product after product into consumers’ laps via significantly speedy next-, and even same-, day delivery.
Logistics is under a pressure like no other to rectify the environmental damage caused by the roads between the first and last mile, certainly no mean feat. Yet, in spite of the global scale of such a challenge, consumer behaviour has subconsciously shifted to favour the greenest of end miles: PUDO (‘pick-up, drop-off’), writes David Taylor, country manager for Aramex UK.
The reinvention of retail
It’s not news that consumers have almost U-turned on shopping in physical stores to embrace ecommerce – the usually discount-rife January 2022 saw footfall in stores decrease by 17.1% on the same period as last year, and the jury’s out as to how the coming peak season will shape up. In part, online shopping’s popularity is thanks to broad product ranges at varying price points, and then their almost-instant access. Yet, while retail rushes to reinvent itself to reflect the desires of the at-home last mile, any benefits are at risk of being overshadowed by increasing amounts of courier-driven carbon emissions.
Invisible logistics, visible impacts
Despite the actual logistics of logistics being rather invisible to the end-customer, the environmental effects aren’t so easy to ignore – transport alone accounts for 27% of the greenhouse gases emitted in the UK. Before goods have even landed on doorstops, we’ve a fulfilment process riddled with practices that aren’t exactly ‘eco-friendly’. Not only do goods travel, but they travel far – passing from production lines to storage warehouses, before being collected by last-mile couriers and finally reaching the customer.
Think about it – every time we submit card details to an online shopping platform, we’re contributing more carbon emissions to the atmosphere. That’s not to say consumers or ecommerce are the enemy here – more, we must focus on supporting innovative and considerate ways of maintaining customer expectations and meeting demand in combination with keeping carbon emissions low.
Expense of redeliveries
IBM found that around 6 in 10 consumers would be willing to alter their shopping habits to lessen the impact on the environment. But do such habits extend to a last mile landscape favouring the exceptional convenience of home-deliveries?
Well, getting a notification to say your parcel delivery hasn’t been successful is frustrating. For the customer who was only a minute away from getting home in time for their allocated delivery slot, and the courier, too. Routes are now heavily optimised for every drop, and second delivery attempts drain both time and money – retailers must find an average of £4.90 for every redelivery attempt, carriers £2.01. Some of which must contribute to the additional fuel bill, and so it goes that more fuel for more miles means more vehicle emissions. What we’re really costing, here, is the Earth.
The complexities of finding that sweet spot continues to grow – can we actually have it all?
The rise of PUDO
Indeed, the delivery and returns by PUDO is a method we’ve quickly become accustomed without really realising it – another piece contributing to the sustainable logistics puzzle. PUDO is perfectly positioned to tap into the convenience craved by consumers who get to choose the best public location, be it a store or 24/7 locker, for their package to be delivered to, making those frustrations of missing a parcel by 5 minutes history.
What’s more, the ‘unfairness’ many consumers feel towards ‘paying’ for delivery is lessened – it goes without saying that it’s far more cost effective for a courier to deliver multiple packages to the same location rather than numerous points. The finances of fuel, time, and staffing are massively reduced – so too, is the need for consumers to foot the cost.
Yet, the most crucial benefit of PUDO is its ability to help drive down logistics’ harmful emissions. By ridding multiple journeys in the same location, carriers now need often only make few trips in the same area to offload numerous packages. With fewer stop-starts and intermittent journeys, it doesn’t take a genius to work how this option is more favourable to quelling the amount of greenhouse gases we omit.
Promoting better choices with PUDO
With lesser delivery attempts, the stronger the efficiency of the delivery service. And subsequently, the ‘greener’ the overall process, particularly in combination with the movement to alternative, more environmentally-friendly vehicles (like electric vans).
Even more, the convenience of collecting or returning parcels to locality points works to promote somewhat subconscious, greener choices by consumers. Like, choosing to walk rather than drive round the block to collect a package from the PUDO-supplied store, or incorporating returning a parcel on the commute home to a handy 24/7 locker instead of making an additional journey.
We don’t yet have the magic wand to wave and eradicate all environmental implications of delivery and return logistics. But we’re making steps that are becoming more tangible. And PUDO most certainly has the ability to pave the way to eliminating its fair share.
David Taylor, country manager for Aramex UK.