At a time when consumers are demanding faster and faster deliveries of goods, the logistics of delivering goods to customers are becoming more complex.
Add to this the need to focus on sustainable, environmentally friendly practices and it is clear that the logistics industry is facing unique and unprecedented challenges.
The E-Commerce Times spoke to a variety of experts in the field to learn what is happening to make logistics more sustainable and how that sustainability can be good not only for the planet but also for the economy.
“Basically, sustainable logistics is about building supply chains that create long-term value not just for key business stakeholders such as customers and investors, but for society at large,” said Mike Parra, CEO of DHL Express Americas the E-Commerce Times.
“It’s about enabling growth and trade while protecting the environment, creating fair and inclusive working conditions and respecting human rights. It covers many areas, but in this case we want to highlight environmental sustainability, which primarily focuses on eliminating the emissions that can arise in all areas of transport and logistics operations, “explained Parra.
Ultimately, sustainable logistics makes sense for the planet, for consumers, and for businesses themselves.
“Sustainable logistics is about an approach that leads to positive economic, environmental and social outcomes for our business, our customers and the world at large,” Lang Cottrell, Regional Director Southwest, Goodman Group US, told the E-Commerce Times. “Making a positive contribution to a more sustainable world has never been more important.”
One of the burdens on the logistics industry is increasing consumer demand for faster delivery – and that requirement makes it even more important to consider the environmental impact of increased speed.
“As consumer expectations shift to day or day delivery, supply chains will only ask for more ocean-going ships, rail cars, trucks and airplanes to move more goods at ever faster speeds,” said Mitchell Bailey, COO at Caspia, told the E-Commerce Times.
“Because these delivery expectations are compressed, we need to ensure that the logistics strategies we use to meet these delivery requirements are scalable and have as little impact on our natural resources and the environment as possible. Responsible delivery logistics are essential to the future of our industry and the well-being of the planet, “he added.
Fast delivery also means focusing on making the last mile as environmentally friendly as possible.
“Sustainable logistics is simple: get the package from the country of origin to the destination without any negative impact on the environment or the communities we serve,” said Ian Gardner, CEO of GoFor, the E-Commerce Times.
“This means approaching the last mile delivery and fulfillment process on all fronts from a sustainable perspective – converting the entire fleet to electric vehicles, making these vehicles and drivers more efficient, and introducing packaging and materials that produce less waste and can be reused or recycled, “he said.
Buyers want goods to be delivered quickly, but they are also aware of the need to make these deliveries more sustainable and that consumer awareness shapes the way the logistics industry works.
“An increase in online sales coupled with a passionate desire by consumers to get goods as quickly as possible is contrasting with a logistics industry facing real and significant challenges related to the cost and capacity to source those goods “said Megan Stillerman, vice president of professional service and customer success for Miva, told the E-Commerce Times.
“Logistics and trading companies have the opportunity to work together,” she continued.
“By tapping into the mindset of conscious shoppers and asking them to invest on sustainability, compromise on delivery times and package consolidation, and really think about where and how their goods get to them, the industry as a whole can make room for change that won’t only allow a lighter appearance on earth, but also the survival and growth of the industry itself. ”
Sustainability for Profitability
The logistics industry consists not only of trucks and airplanes, but also of the data centers and the information infrastructure behind them. These too have to evolve in order to become more sustainable.
“Sustainable infrastructure is critical to building green economic growth in the data center and fiber optic networking industries,” Merete Caubet, vice president of fiber networks for Bulk Infrastructure, told the E-Commerce Times.
“We are leaders in sustainable infrastructure through the use of renewable energy, hydropower, water recycling and district heating,” said Caubet. “By developing a pure infrastructure, state-of-the-art fiber optic routes and connectivity solutions that enable sustainable technology solutions, Bulk can promote sustainable logistics.”
As brands become more committed to sustainability, they will increasingly highlight that commitment as part of their marketing strategy.
“With shoppers becoming more choosy about the products they buy, they are becoming more aware of where the item came from,” Randy Mercer, 1WorldSync’s vice president of global product management, told the E-Commerce Times.
“One way that companies in the logistics industry can take advantage of this transparency is through updated branded product content that includes product descriptions, details and images.
“Navigating e-commerce has been a top priority lately, as there have been fewer shoppers in stores lately. Well-known brands like Walmart and Target are taking on Amazon to improve product content so customers know in advance if a product will meet their sustainability needs, ”he noted.
As alternative fuels become more common and cheaper, they will gradually make sustainable logistics accessible to companies along the entire supply chain – and contribute to profitability.
“In addition to the benefits to the ecosystem, sustainability promotes profitability and minimizes the economic fluctuations in underlying costs, such as fuel costs,” Dan Neiweem, co-founder and CEO of Avionos, told the E-Commerce Times. “More efficient and alternative fuel sources or electric vehicles are an important focus of the logistics industry in order to become more sustainable.
“In addition, software can optimize routes and identify potential customers along existing routes, while short distances also minimize the impact on the ecosystem.”
“As renewable energies become more efficient,” he continued, “the warehouses will run entirely on solar and wind power and the vehicles will run on electricity. The driving speed and braking are controlled more closely, either through monitoring or autonomous vehicles, distances are becoming shorter, deliveries between warehouses are geared towards more sustainability. ”
Essentail to partnerships
Sustainability trends in the logistics industry are becoming increasingly important, what it means to get goods from one point to another – and ultimately what it means to both run a company and buy products in the 21st century.
“Sustainability will become an even higher priority for supply chain companies over the next five years as brands increasingly require their partners to reduce their carbon footprint,” Pete Zimmerman, VAI’s North American software sales manager, told E-Commerce TimesCommerce.
“To be more sustainable going forward and to accommodate these green initiatives, the logistics industry should continue to implement technology to gain actionable insights into sustainability goals and achieve a greener supply chain,” he advised.