Lots of people talk about the weather nowadays — not so much out of politeness, but rather out of concern. Record-breaking temperatures, heat waves, floods, and other extreme phenomena are felt by Australians everywhere. There is no denying that climate change is affecting not only our day-to-day lives and well-being, but the business environment as well.
The good news is that the retail industry is one of the most powerful changemakers and trendsetters in our society. It can have a significant positive impact through the way it operates and what it chooses to promote. Even small changes in shipping policies, like offering a click-and-collect service, can have a terrific impact, without compromising on efficiency or quality — quite the contrary!
In this article, we will focus on the — often overlooked — potential of click and collect to lower the carbon footprint of your shop. If you own an e-commerce business or have an online shopping feature that complements your brick-and-mortar location, then this article is for you.
Customers Are Concerned About the Shipping Carbon Footprint
As you may have probably heard, Earth Overshoot Day takes place earlier and earlier each year (July 28th in 2022 or August 2nd in 2017 — as opposed to December 25th in 1971!). It’s no wonder that sustainable consumption is becoming a hot topic among businesses and individuals.
A 2022 report by KPMG Australia showed that 80 per cent of consumers prefer brands that align with their values, and 54 per cent say that their buying decision is influenced by the company’s environmental and social record. As such, many retailers in Australia and New Zealand are incorporating sustainability goals into the core of their business strategy. This includes prioritising zero net emissions goals and more responsible material sourcing.
Consumers expect the companies they support to meet those goals while also being transparent in their reporting. While implementing and tracking ESG initiatives (Environmental, Social, and Governance) is difficult, the benefit of maintaining a competitive edge is worthwhile.
When it comes to the carbon footprint of the transport sector, it’s worth remembering that, globally, it is responsible for approximately one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. The majority of transport trucks used in retail are powered by fossil fuels like diesel; thus, finding ways to rely less on them is critical.
Allowing customers to pick up their ordered products in-store, at their leisure, rather than having packages delivered to their door, is an untapped opportunity for retail businesses to reduce their impact. This is essentially what click and collect is all about.
How Does Click and Collect Work to Reduce the Shipping Carbon Footprint?
First off, how does click and collect work, in general?
This ‘shop online, pickup in store’ retail strategy typically uses an online booking platform (like SocialQ) where customers can set up a time and place to pick up their order after making an online purchase. Afterwards, the store sends shipping updates and notifies the customer when their order is ready to be collected.
It's easy to see how simplifying your supply chain helps you save on GHG emissions.
There are many practical benefits to implementing a click-and-collect process, from an environmental standpoint, and more:
- Less packaging, which equals less waste (especially plastic), as well as lower costs;
- Special shopping events like Black Friday will cause fewer carbon emissions and decreased traffic congestion if customers can pick up their order at a click-and-collect location in their neighbourhood;
- Drive sales: if people can save money on shipping, they will tend to buy more products from your shop;
- You avoid multiple return visits (and more GHG emissions) when the customer is not at home;
- It’s more convenient for customers who either struggle with the delivery company’s schedule or simply prefer to walk to the nearest pick-up point — especially Gen Z customers;
- Not just shops, but consumers, too, are happy about saving money on shipping (which is, in fact, the main reason they prefer this delivery strategy);
- The click and collect process is typically quicker than home delivery;
- It’s more convenient for the business to rely less often on a third-party transport service;
- Improve accessibility: home delivery drivers can prioritise customers who can’t walk to your shop;
- Using an online booking platform comes with its own perks, like providing a better shopping experience for the buyer, connecting with them, creating special offers, and receiving feedback;
- It’s one of the simplest positive changes a company or consumer can make and it motivates them to further improve.
If you want to learn more about how click and collect works, we have touched upon the most important aspects in a previous article called “The Benefits of Click and Collect to Retailers and Consumers”.
‘The Last Mile’ is the Shopping Stage that Makes a Difference
A 2020 joint study by British and Dutch researchers, comparing various retail business models, reached an interesting conclusion: the ‘greenest’ shopping option is a combination of both traditional and online shopping. In terms of GHG emissions, ‘the last mile’ stage (delivering the products to the consumer) produced the most significant differences among the various tested scenarios.
They also found that by replacing diesel delivery vans with electric cargo bicycles, they could reduce the shipping carbon footprint of ‘the last mile’ by up to 42%.
This is great news for retailers because it means they can benefit from combining traditional and modern (online) shopping while also reducing their carbon footprint. And if you use the 'shop online, pick up in store' strategy, you can go the extra mile by selecting a 'greener' mode of transportation.
Make a Change with SocialQ
If you want to start implementing more sustainable practices in your store, consider your shipping carbon footprint. Investing in an online booking platform to begin a streamlined click and collect process is a simple but effective solution. It's a win-win for you and your customers, and you become a part of the solution to the climate crisis that concerns us all.
We have worked with both large and small Australian retailers, including Kmart, Target, The Athlete’s Foot, and The Trybe, to set up a booking platform in line with their needs and expectations.
If you need our assistance to start your own click and collect process, our team at SocialQ is here for you. Get in touch with us today — we are eager to help!