4 best practices for achieving green logistics

13th Apr 2022

Global sustainability efforts are evolving constantly—which means that consumer feelings and behaviours are evolving as well. A recent Deloitte report, for instance, found that consumers in the UK didn’t have much of a consensus on how they were approaching sustainability: many were trying to decrease consumption of single-use plastics, others were buying local, some others were cutting down air travel. 

Likewise, there was no single answer as to why some consumers were not factoring sustainability into their purchasing decisions. But two reasons were cited frequently: 15% did not have enough information, and another 16% found it too expensive. This should be intriguing to retailers and delivery organisations—after all, low costs and high levels of information are also exactly what consumers look for in last mile deliveries. 

As consumer behaviour shifts and evolves, businesses that adopt green logistics processes can leverage them both to decrease emissions and to engage customers—maybe even customers who would otherwise be thrown off by barriers to sustainability like price and poor transparency.

Make your journeys more efficient

First things first: if you are going to engage customers with your green logistics strategy, it is a good idea to decrease your carbon footprint. One of the most powerful tools that delivery businesses have in decreasing emissions in the last mile is route optimisation. Why? Because every mile you can shave off your delivery route is a mile’s worth of emissions saved—and AI-powered routing algorithms can account for delivery constraints, estimate service times, and sequence stops in effective routes much more effectively than human planners can do on their own. 

AI-powered routing can result in a 10% reduction in miles driven, which makes a big impact on your carbon footprint. At the same time, speeding up the routing process and creating a more flexible and efficient process gives you the ability to handle customer requests with ease. This lays the foundation for enabling you to offer greener delivery options to your customers.

Give customers green delivery options

There’s already some evidence that many customers will actively choose later delivery dates (e.g. opting not to request highly resource-intensive same-day delivery) if they know that doing so will decrease emissions and help the climate. This can serve to differentiate a brand too for being environmentally friendly.

But like I mentioned earlier, to make green choices, consumers want to have complete information and cost-effective options. That means you need to be able to offer them greener options without asking them to pay more for delivery, and you need to help them understand how their choice of delivery time slot impacts sustainability. You also need to be able to offer them these options in the first place—something that can be fairly complex with many legacy delivery management solutions. 

Update your transportation network

One of the most striking things I have seen in the pandemic is the way that transportation networks have adapted to meet changing demands. This included turning stores into fulfilment centres, enabling kerbside pickup, and other strategies. As life returns to normal in many places, fulfilment networks are likely to keep evolving rapidly—but when you know how the structure of your transportation network impacts sustainability, you can be intentional about making adjustments in the right direction.

Here, the same route optimisation techniques can be a part of finding the right organisation of warehouses, hubs, vehicles, and other elements to decrease mileage for each delivery in a systematic way. Here, the ability to accurately model real-life delivery times is going to be key.

Turn last mile visibility into reduced wastage

Last mile visibility is not just about gathering information—it is about having the right data in the right place at the right time. When it comes to sustainability, it can help you reduce failed deliveries and thereby reduce your miles driven. When you have visibility into every vehicle and every order on the day of delivery, you can easily spot delays and reach out to customers about potential late deliveries to make sure they will still be home or to reschedule. 

This is another area where the best practice is to empower consumers with the information they need to help with sustainability efforts. When customers know how important first-attempt delivery success is—and they know exactly when the vehicle is expected to arrive—it is easy for them to make a green choice.

Businesses and consumers across the UK are going to have to work together to drive sustainable practices—this means working hard internally to make your business greener and reaching across the aisle to engage meaningfully with customers. If you can pull off that balancing act, you can help build a more sustainable future for the delivery industry.

Please see here for DispatchTrack’s latest whitepaper “The Retailer’s Guide to Last Mile Logistics”.



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