Without a doubt, free and fast shipping has revolutionized the way that online shopping is handled. However, while the shopper isn’t paying for it, the environment certainly is.
Large online retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target and more, all offer two-day shipping for free. However, the faster deliveries are made, the less efficient these retailers become.
While it may seem like it, shipping is not magic. Millions of packages are shipped around the country every day. They utilize huge fleets of trucks to accomplish this behemoth task.
However, those trucks produce carbon, which is the main cause of climate change.
Pros of Online Shopping
Online shopping offers a lot of benefits. In just a few simple clicks of the mouse, you can order almost anything online and receive it the next day. All of this can be done while never leaving your house.
However, this is much more impactful than you might imagine.
Let’s say 1 million people decide to buy a new product online for the holiday season. Instead of those 1 million people individually driving to a retail store to make that purchase, significantly fewer vehicles are used to accomplish this task.
On paper, this should be better for the environment, but it’s quite different in reality.
A Reality of Online Shopping
E-commerce is extremely competitive. For a long time, Amazon was one of the few, if not the only, company to offer two-day shipping with their Prime membership.
Eventually, to compete with Amazon, more and more companies offered the same.
However, Amazon has recently announced one-day shipping, which has led to its other competitors to follow suit.
Faster shipping is great news for shoppers, but terrible for the environment.
Impact on the Environment
From the consumer’s side, fast shipping is great and going from two days to 1-day shipping doesn’t seem like much of a jump. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In reality, the logistics of this change are astronomical. The faster that shipments need to be made, the less efficient they are.
For example, instead of using a larger truck to deliver a lot of packages at once, this results in multiple trucks making a few deliveries.
Due to the sheer amount of packages that get delivered on a daily basis, this is worse than multiple shoppers driving a short distance to their local store.
In some cases, making a purchase online still requires you to drive to the store to pick it up.
Fast shipping is not reducing the number of vehicles on the road, instead, it is increasing them.
Green Shipping Choices
Many companies are not ignoring the impact on the environment. Amazon has multiple shipping options for customers to choose from and has also introduced Amazon Day.
The premise is simple. Instead of sending multiple smaller trucks to deliver multiple packages throughout the week, all of your packages will be delivered on one day.
Many customers have multiple packages delivered to their house, but having them all delivered on the same day means fewer trucks on the road.
This gives the company time to ship the package efficiently and reduce the number of trucks on the road.
The best part is this is all completely free for the shopper.
Online Shopping is Here to Stay
In the past, online shopping was thought of as a fad. While it has not surpassed retail sales quite yet, one thing is clear, online shopping is not going anywhere.
However, both companies and shoppers need to consider the environmental impact of fast shipping. Choosing slower shipping methods allow companies to ship packages more efficiently.
With better sales forecasting, companies can make sure that items are stored in the best locations. This will mean less traveling is required once sales are made.
Almost everything you do has an impact on the environment, and fast shipping is no exception.