No Summer holidays for sustainability in Retail
Welcome to "nouveau monde", your "nouveau genre" newsletter to better understand how to make the world better through the lens of retail. This is #24
This week in Nouveau Monde, we talk about Amazon that starts to do something with its return items and ask ourselves if lockers could be a sustainable solution for the delivery industry.
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Lockers and Sustainability
We all know the carbon footprint of transport is significant when you calculate a product life cycle and we’ve already written about how delivery is more efficient in that matter.
Today, we’ll make a focus on parcel lockers as they have a huge power of optimization for delivery companies.
A recent study by the International Post Corporation gives us some insights about lockers and sustainability.
First, a little background : the use of lockers is very different between two countries and we’ve seen a lot of new usage during the start of the pandemic and the first lockdowns. Especially, the study found a great rise in the use of lockers for returns as they are more convenient for customers.
Open lockers are also on a rise which means that delivery companies understood that there is no need for each of them to have its own lockers but that they rather partner to provide the best density of lockers for the customers.
Indeed, the study shows (with a great variety of cases between countries) that a lot of people still tend to take their car to get their parcels as the locker is considered to be too far away from their home (or they went to the locker on their way back or to home).
There will be no sustainability gain if on one hand the delivery company rides less miles thanks to the locker option delivery but on the other hand the customer uses its car to get this parcel. There is a great work to of density, multi operator lockers and also with the education of customers : yes, the use of lockers can be a convenient choice but it also has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of the delivery, if everybody makes a little effort.
What if Amazon…
Amazon is making it easier for businesses to resell items that customers have returned, and it will facilitate the sale of overstock inventory. The two new Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) programs are part of their commitment both to sellers and to sustainability.
“Customer returns are a fact of life for all retailers, and what to do with those products is an industry-wide challenge,” said Libby Johnson McKee, director of Amazon WW Returns, ReCommerce, and Sustainability.
“These new programs are examples of the steps we’re taking to ensure that products sold on Amazon—whether by us or our small business partners—go to good use and don’t become waste”.
"Along with existing programs like FBA Donations, we hope these help build a circular economy, maximize reuse, and reduce our impact on the planet. And we’re excited that these programs will also help the businesses selling on Amazon reduce costs and grow their businesses—it’s a win for our partners, customers, and communities.”
Check out how the new program works: https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/operations/amazons-new-programs-give-returned-and-unsold-inventory-new-life
“Would you pay more for a sustainable product—or just say that you will? When it comes to sustainability in retail and consumer goods, it’s not always clear shoppers are putting their money where their mouths are. A new episode of the McKinsey on Consumer and Retail podcast digs in to separate consumer sustainability myths from facts, touching on the pandemic’s impact on the trend, generational differences, what issues should be top of mind for CEOs, and more.”
Take a listen.— Torea Frey, managing editor, Seattle