‘Encourage consumers to choose sustainable delivery options’

A few simple changes to a web shop’s checkout page can prompt consumers to make more sustainable delivery choices, according to Wijnand Jongen, Director of Thuiswinkel.org: “This is an easy way for e-tailers to contribute to reducing carbon emissions generated by last-mile deliveries.”

Consumers can be actively encouraged to choose the most sustainable delivery option when they reach a web shop’s checkout page. The most effective way to do this is by offering information about the emissions associated with each of the delivery options and/or by making the most sustainable choice the default option. These are the key findings from research into the effects of sustainability interventions on delivery choices. The study was commissioned by the Dutch e-commerce industry association Thuiswinkel.org and the Netherlands’ Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.

In the study, respondents were allowed to select a gift and were then redirected to one of five checkout pages to make their delivery choice. Each page showed the same delivery options but presented the carbon impact information differently.

Positive effect of carbon impact information

Providing information about the carbon impact of the various delivery options had a positive effect on the consumers’ choices. Whereas only 8.1% of the respondents in the group without extra information chose the most sustainable delivery option, an average of 16% of consumers did so in the groups that were presented with information about the carbon impact. However, the greatest effect is achieved by providing that information in combination with making the most sustainable option the default choice. This resulted in almost 30% of consumers choosing the most sustainable delivery option.

“Therefore, we advise e-tailers to make these two changes to their checkout pages,” says Wijnand Jongen. “The checkout page is the most logical and natural place for these changes because it is the point in the purchase process when the online shopper chooses the delivery option and can therefore still be influenced. The Bewust Bezorgd calculator makes it easy for Dutch e-tailers to identify the most sustainable delivery option.”

Green leaf symbol

Last but not least, although the symbol of a green leaf positively influenced sustainable choices in this study, the findings revealed that consumers generally do not necessarily regard it as symbolizing a sustainable option. In addition, the results implied that the green leaf is not a sufficiently striking sustainability symbol and that it lacks comprehensibility and expressiveness.