9 August 2022
5 min read
Is eCommerce good for Europe?
- On average, in Europe, e-commerce has a lower end-to-end environmental impact than physical non-food retail
- Offline shopping results in between 1.5 and 2.9 times more greenhouse gas emissions than online shopping
- E-commerce saves 4 to 9 times the traffic it generates
E-commerce has been growing at double digit for the last two decades and there’s a wonder on how this may impact both the retail industry and the wider environment; especially after the critical role it played during Covid-19 due to the closing of many stores.
In 2019, e-commerce represented 11% of total sales in the retail industry in the following 8 countries as a whole (France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and UK), and from 2019 to 2020, e-commerce grew by 31%, following a growth of 12% from 2018 to 2019.
With these statistical data, consumers are increasingly considering the impact produced by the decisions they make and how these may affect the future of their neighborhoods and the wider environment.
Although it may seem that e-commerces contribute to a less sustainable world, if we correctly analyze all the factors that are hidden behind it, we will realize that e-commerce is, in fact, the solution for a more environmentally friendly planet.
Offline shopping results in between 1.5 and 2.9 times more greenhouse gas emissions than online shopping. While e-commerce requires delivery trucks to circulate, they reduce vehicle traffic by a factor of 4 to 9 (as physical retail includes store replenishment and consumers driving to stores which generate 4.7 times as much traffic per sales unit as e-commerce deliveries).
In addition and as we can well see in the subsequent graphs, on average, for a piece of clothing purchased through walk-up physical store access, causes 2.9 the emission of buying it through eCommerce – mostly due to the store building’s energy consumption as for example heating and lighting needed for the space required to access and display products.
CO2e impact of a product purchased through different sale channels in Europe (Average case)
Ingrams of CO2 equivalent emissions for an average non-food product
Comparison of impacts from e-commerce and physical shopping in the Average case
Impact in grams of CO2e and ratio of the impact for physical shopping to that for e-commerce
Furthermore, e-commerce occupies less than 0.3% of artificial land in Europe. For a given amount of revenue, required full land occupation (which includes storage and selling areas, as well as space for vehicles to access and park) is estimated to be 26 to 43 percent lower for e-commerce than for physical retail.
Over the past century, retail has continued to change as technology simplifies tasks. New lifestyles – such as increased car usage – are changing consumer habits. Large banners and smaller physical stores are now adding online features that interact with and augment their existing offers and make them even more attractive.
Considering this insight and with the thought of e-commerce heading the future of online shopping, Rever has grown to become the leading solution for retailers and consumers for all return-related activities – all this without overlooking the impact that this may have at an environmental level.
Furthermore, we understand our customers, we know what they need and we know what is good for the planet so, for this reason, we have developed a custom product that addresses all potential issues that make the returns process inefficient while seeking to minimize our environmental footprint.