Global e-commerce has reached unexpected heights in the past few years. In 2021, retail e-commerce sales were approximately 4.9 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide. This figure is forecast to grow by 50 percent over the next four years, reaching about 7.4 trillion dollars by 2025. (source statista.com)
However, the expansion of e-commerce is changing consumer purchasing behavior, which is having a negative impact on the climate. As more people shop online, their expectations rise. Instead of waiting a week for a purchase, they want it tomorrow—or even today. That means a sharp rise in home deliveries and individual packages.
Many retailers have already begun to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint, but the multiple channels of purchasing and delivery options make the task more difficult for them.
Do you want to know how you can reduce your carbon footprint? We will point out a few essential actions you can take to become carbon neutral. So let’s dive right in!
Key Steps To Reduce The Carbon Footprints?
1: Identify Your Biggest Carbon Footprint
You can only manage what you can measure. Obtaining carbon transparency will allow you to identify and implement high-impact actions to reduce your climate change contribution over time, making your operations more sustainable.
2: Encourage In-Store Pickup
Omnichannel retailers can offer customers who shop online the option of picking up their purchases at a store on the same day. This approach is typically less expensive and less carbon-intensive than shipping items to a customer’s home.
3: Establish Convenient Pickup Points
Retailers who don’t have the benefit of an extensive store network can establish their pickup locations near customers or partner with other retailers for space. But the challenge here is that pickup locations can sometimes create larger carbon footprints than home delivery or a trip to the store.
4: Ship From the Local Store
Shipping items to customers from a local store rather than a distribution center can reduce carbon emissions and costs by reducing long-distance shipping, especially for oversized items.
5: Reduce Dedicated Customer Trips
Omnichannel retailers can partner with on-demand delivery services to combine orders and minimize mileage. Employee delivery is another option for retailers, in which store employees drop off customer packages on their way home.
6: Give Your Products a Second Life
Typically, products are disposed of after being used for some time. Retailers can encourage customers to participate in the circular economy by providing opportunities to resell and buy used products.
How UWorx Can Help The E-Commerce Industry Reduce Their Carbon Footprints?
Of course, technology is required for this transformation. Here are some ways how UWorx can assist the e-commerce industry in reducing its carbon footprint:
1.Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning:
The pivotal role that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning play in improving the climate is undeniable. Many businesses have started to shift their focus and operations to incorporate Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into their systems.
Here are some advantages of using AI and Machine Learning in an e-commerce business to kickstart climate change:
Forecast & Reduce Carbon Emissions:
Artificial intelligence can help omni-channel retailers monitor their carbon footprint by analyzing data from across the organization. Furthermore, predictive artificial intelligence can be used to forecast future emissions, allowing them to set targets for reducing their carbon footprints. These detailed insights will enable them to optimize their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.
Effectively Generate & Distribute Energy:
The Machine Learning process can assist omni-channel retailers in improving energy generation and distribution by optimizing electricity generation, maintenance, leakage prevention, and fleet management.
AI solutions also assist them in reducing energy waste in buildings or workplaces. This can be accomplished by analyzing building and office supply and demand and allocating resources accordingly.
Smart Transportation Solutions:
Making transportation solutions greener and more sustainable is another great way to use AI to reduce the carbon footprint of the e-commerce industry. Smart transportation solutions can help e-commerce companies reduce CO2 emissions.
2.Internet of Things (IoT)
There has been much buzz in recent years regarding the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, making it seem the world has already entered a period of advancements previously seen only in sci-fi movies.
Now, industries can also look towards IoT devices and applications as a tool to reduce their carbon footprint and their impact on the environment. Here are some examples of how the e-commerce industry can use IoT devices to reduce its carbon footprint.
Increase Energy Efficiency:
With the use of various IoT-enabled tools and gadgets, omni-channel retailers can remotely monitor power supplies and detect problems early with IoT sensors, increasing power supply resiliency. Furthermore, remote power monitoring can provide insight into how they consume energy, making it easier to understand their environmental impact.
Improve Lighting Efficiency:
Omni-channel retailers can use IoT-enabled smart lighting sensors to make lighting smarter and more responsive, automatically turning on and off lighting fixtures based on the presence or absence of people. These fixtures are intelligent enough to detect the presence of users or to adjust the intensity of the lighting based on the availability of natural light, the time of day, and outside environmental conditions.
Improve Heating & Cooling Efficiency:
Omni channel retailers can significantly reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by utilizing IoT devices such as smart thermostats, smart plugs, and other smart devices.
Switch To a Paperless Environment:
There is numerous Internet of Things devices that can be used as energy-efficient alternatives to paper. Electronic shelf labels, or ESL, are one such innovative method. By replacing traditional paper with an interactive LED screen, these technological advancements have revolutionized the way industries label containers, products, and storage units.
Implement Automated or Self-Check-Out:
Omni channel retailers can use IoT technologies such as mobile POS (point of sale) terminals, IoT-enabled cameras to replace cashiers, and electronic shelf labels to facilitate zero packaging and self-checkout to automate the check-out process.
Customers will be able to put their purchases in their bags, pay for them electronically via a mobile payment app, and walk out of the store using these technologies.
Use IoT To Optimize & Automate Your Supply Chain:
Retailers can use IoT technologies to automate their supply chain management network. They can track inventories in real-time, monitor sales opportunities, and organize their layouts much more efficiently by using these devices in their warehouses and stores. Electronic shelf labels, for example, enable automated and real-time price label updates, stock alerts, and LBS (location-based service) inventory management.
3.Big Data Analytics
Many e-commerce stores around the world are emphasizing sustainability as a key component of their growth strategies. Leveraging data is one way to make progress in this direction. Data objectively reveals the ins and outs of a process, quantifying things to help you see if you’re making progress toward a goal.
Below are a few ways that big data can help e-commerce companies all over the world reduce their carbon emissions for sustainable environmental development.
Real-Time Delivery Management:
Big data improves the tracking of shipped goods and enables real-time delivery management that analyzes weather, traffic, and truck location feeds to determine the exact time of delivery. Sensors can be used to track and provide real-time information on the environmental conditions of the shipment as it travels, its location, whether or not it has been opened, and more.
Improved Order Picking:
Large retailers use a variety of automated mechanisms to pick orders quickly, but with big data, even smaller retailers can improve their order-picking process. Big data solutions enable data from various sources, such as orders, product inventory, warehouse layout, and historical picking times, to be analyzed together to improve the overall picking process.
Better Vendor Management:
Most retailers work with multiple vendors in their supply chain. These include drop ship vendors, 3PL (“third-party logistics”) vendors, transportation vendors, and packaging vendors. Big data analytics solutions enable real-time management by comparing vendor performance to a set of key performance indicators. KPIs are tracked in real-time by integrating with vendor systems, financial inputs such as cost of goods, social network feed related to vendor deliveries, and product packaging. If the KPIs do not remain within the defined range, rules can be created to generate alerts.
Automated Product Sourcing:
Losing revenue due to an out-of-stock product is painful. Big data solutions assist in overcoming this challenge by providing real-time visibility into product demand, sales, and the sourcing process. This also reduces the number of shopping carts that are abandoned. Customers are given realistic lead times by displaying an accurate shipping window before they place their order, which results in fewer questions about the order.
Personalized or Segmented Supply Chain:
Today’s shoppers demand personalized customer service and product offerings. Retailers can use big data to analyze customer interactions across all channels — social, mobile, and web — to determine how the customer is using the products they purchased or will purchase. Retailers, for example, can segment their supply chain to offer some customers configurable products, in which they can choose features such as color or wired versus wireless. A different segment of shoppers may be offered environmentally friendly products, while another segment may be offered value-added features such as gift wrapping. All of this can be accomplished in real-time by matching available products with target customer segments. This will increase overall revenue while also improving profitability.
The Bottom Line
Information Technology has a lot of untapped potential and benefits. Our experts in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, IoT (Internet of Things), and Big Data Analytics can assist you in redefining climate change and business strategies, paving the way for a more sustainable and healthy environment.