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The rise of eco-commerce: How e-commerce is fuelling the sustainable supply chains of tomorrow

12 June 2021

Online buying is not only a convenient way to get the goods you need, but it’s also proving helpful in fuelling a greener economy, pushing companies to implement electrification, efficiency and eco-friendly materials, according to recent research.

E-commerce is leading a boom in green investments throughout industry supply chains, inspiring companies to invest in electrification, efficiency and eco-friendly materials, according to research conducted by DHL in 2021.

Researching five segments of the e-commerce supply chain, including the last mile, the first and mid-mile, warehousing, packaging and returns, the DHL report reveals that the three areas likely to have the greatest potential impact are clean energy through the electrification of transportation fleets and warehousing operations; increased efficiency through technology and big data; and eco-friendly materials in, for example, packaging.

And the net positive impacts of e-commerce on the environment are felt elsewhere, including the replacement of multiple passenger car trips with single delivery vans.

hand holding credit card ready to buy online
E-commerce is fuelling greener technologies

Shopping habits are backing the change

The widespread move by companies to implement more sustainable supply chains is also fuelled by the changing demands and preferences of consumers, who are actively challenging businesses to redesign their transportation and warehousing networks in name of sustainability.

Another DHL / Monitoring Consult survey of U.S. consumers in May 2021 revealed, for example, that the majority (60%) of respondents disclosed being willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products or services. These results were echoed in another study by IBM, where over 70% of respondents revealed they would pay an average premium of 35% for a sustainable and environmentally responsible brand. In the same study, 6/10 consumers revealed they were willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact.

Furthermore, over half (54%) of participants in the DHL study disclosed feeling greater trust towards companies based on their public commitments to sustainability.

Although the green economy is not a new phenomenon, consumers now stand firm in their decision to change, with more opting for companies that actively show their sustainability commitments.

It’s no wonder that the sale of environmentally sustainable products is estimated to reach $150 billion now in 2021.

With younger generations taking the lead on the issue, the companies unwilling to adjust will risk more than just a bad review. Now, what happens online doesn’t stay there, with the real-life impacts of our digital decisions weighing heavier on the minds of consumers and the planet – a weight, businesses can significantly help alleviate.


Climate activist poster with one world message
Younger generations are stepping up against climate change