For retailers planning the year ahead, sustainability has never been such an important consideration. With more than five million Australian households shopping online each month, sales in Australia’s e-commerce and retail industries will continue to soar this year and without intervention in fulfilment, emissions could reach 25 million tons of CO2 by 2030.

As our Prime Minister has recently committed to building practical international partnerships to drive the development of low-emission technologies, it is a timely reminder for businesses across the country to consider the already-existing, proven technologies and processes that could significantly assist their sustainability efforts.

Australia Post has worked hard to meet its target to reduce CO2 emissions by 25 percent in 2020, and Doddle’s partnership with Australia Post to create Australia’s largest Collect & Return network is driving their sustainability commitments even further.

While diversified fulfilment options like Pick Up / Drop Off (PUDO) offer retailers the chance to improve their cost control and enable convenience for consumers, they also make ecommerce deliveries more sustainable. A recent study in the Netherlands has found that parcels delivered to pick up points generate 33% less carbon emissions than those delivered to homes.

Delivering parcels in bulk to pick up points allows delivery workers to drive fewer kilometres, therefore reducing the CO2 emitted per parcel delivered. Driving fewer kilometres has other benefits too; reducing congestion and noise pollution in neighborhoods where traffic is becoming an increasing issue.

Increasing consolidation through the use of pickup points like those in Australia Post’s Collect & Return network has the potential to drive down emissions in the last mile. However, retailer investment and engagement with PUDO promotion and messaging to consumers will be a key to maximising its impact on emissions reduction.

Sustainability incentives

Cost remains king for shoppers in Australia, with our research finding that 73 percent of shoppers are not willing to pay a premium for next day delivery. While this goes some way to explaining why the likes of Amazon Prime have struggled in the market, it also means that retailers need to offer clear incentives for shoppers to change their behaviour.

It’s no surprise that with cost a driving factor for consumers to commit to a purchase, being rewarded for shopping sustainably is something a third (30%) of Australians favour. Retailers could look to incorporate sustainable delivery choices into a loyalty program – over in the UK, parcel carrier DPD encourages shoppers who receive deliveries from its electric vehicle fleet by planting trees for every 50 deliveries, which users can track within the app.


These pickup points offer consumers convenient local options and give them the option to decide when and where they pick up a parcel. Retailers can take convenience one step further by reducing the amount of waste and steps it takes to sort out a return – our research found that more than half of Australians find printer-less (55%) and package-less (65%) returns appealing, as it simplifies the process and makes consumers feel as though they are doing their part to improve the environment.

Giving shoppers feel-good moments

With the convenience online shopping provides consumers, it is inevitable that parcel volumes will only continue to grow. Online retailers don’t have to convince their customers that they’re doing something wrong by shopping online – but they can highlight the opportunities to save some trees or reduce some emissions when it comes to their delivery options at the checkout.

For example, highlighting the reduced CO2 emissions of PUDO deliveries will encourage some shoppers to pick the more sustainable option without any cost to the retailer. There are already examples of this – European online grocer Ocado uses green highlights to show when a van will already be delivering in the area when customers are booking a delivery slot, encouraging customers to make a green (and cost-saving) decision. Making these opportunities clearer helps shoppers feel happier about their shopping – and that can’t be bad for customer loyalty. 

Justin Dery is CEO for Asia Pacific at Doddle.