Why CO2 tracking in deliveries is key to great CX

25th Oct 2022

As net zero initiatives around the world begin to gain traction and governments roll out plans to reduce carbon emissions, modern consumers are increasingly in a position to vote with their pounds when it comes to supporting more sustainable brands. Studies show that there are already large swaths of the consumer population who will make purchase and delivery decisions based on environmental considerations, and there’s reason to believe that many others would factor sustainability into their decisions if retailers made it easy for them. 

To put it bluntly: CO2 reduction is now in many ways a CX priority—one that’s even harder to ignore in the face of rising supply chain costs and economic uncertainty. What that means for retailers is that just boosting efficiency and working to cut down on emissions isn’t enough—it’s also crucial to be able to track your progress and keep customers engaged in the process. 

What Customers Want Out of More Sustainable Deliveries

Historically, the typical customer’s heuristic for choosing a delivery option at checkout was pretty simple: “how quickly do I want this item, and how much am I willing to spend to get it by then?” But nowadays, retailers are starting to throw another variable into the mix: carbon emissions. When you let consumers know what the CO2 implications actually are of their various delivery options, they have an opportunity to choose more sustainably. 

For instance, a customer might opt for 2-day delivery instead of same-day delivery if they know that the same-day delivery is going to be more carbon-intensive. If they’re inclined to make that choice, they may also be inclined to opt for your brand in the future over others who don’t provide the same level of choice when it comes to the environmental impact of deliveries. 

To make this possible, however, you need to actually be able to predict emissions at checkout. Since CO2 emissions are based mostly on fuel consumption—which scales linearly with miles driven—calculating this in advance requires generating multiple hypothetical routes on the spot, even before the order has been placed. Not only that, but it requires you to be able to accommodate different requests from customers without missing a beat.

Why CO2 Tracking Is Key

As you can imagine, meeting the criteria above requires the ability to effectively predict your carbon emissions for each delivery and then actually track CO2 output for every delivery and every route. This certainly isn’t an insurmountable problem, but it’s not trivial either:

  • Different vehicle and load types will have different fuel economies. You need to be able to configure CO2 output for different vehicles and loads in order to track effectively. 
  • Since CO2 is based on mileage, you need to be able to easily track planned vs actual miles driven. 
  • In order to compare different delivery options from a carbon emissions perspective, you need to be able to generate hypothetical route plans quickly. Otherwise, your system will get bogged down before you’ve found the best option. 

Not only is routing speed imperative for offering consumers green logistics options at checkout—it’s also key for crafting greener delivery runs during the planning phase. If your route planner can instantly update your per-route and per-stop CO2 emissions after each change to your plan, you can begin to work towards showing off a measurable difference in your carbon footprint to customers.

This can have an impact well beyond the delivery options at checkout. In fact, it can give you the data baseline you need to begin building sustainability commitments into your brand image. What’s more, you can leverage the efficiency you gain here directly into cost savings that can help you weather the current economic turmoil more effectively. 

How to Turn CO2 Tracking into Improved UX

When you’re in a better position to track your CO2 emissions throughout the delivery process, you can more easily incorporate sustainability goals into the delivery experience that you offer customers. But what does that look like in practice? Here’s one version of how the process might play out:

The customer is given options for scheduling a delivery (either at checkout or in a follow-up email). They’re given dynamically selected time slot options, which have CO2 emissions estimates attached to them based on hypothetical route plans. 

  • During the route planning stage, you ensure that their preferred delivery option actually provides lower carbon emissions—this may involve tweaking schedules to minimise CO2 per stop or per route. 
  • On the day of, you remind the customer to expect the delivery driver within the time window and provide them with real-time visibility into the delivery so they do not wind up missing the driver and necessitating a redelivery attempt (which would wipe out all of the carbon savings).
  • After a successful delivery, you can send a delivery receipt letting your customers know actually what the CO2 savings were from picking a more sustainable option. 

In this way, sustainability makes its way into the customer delivery communications from end to end, and you can put yourself in a strong position to provide customers the kind of green delivery experiences they’re increasingly seeking out. It’s a recipe for better customer retention in this increasingly difficult economic climate.


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