Research: encouraging customers to make a more sustainable delivery choice

The rise of e-commerce has led to an increase in parcel deliveries, increasing the need to address last-mile delivery’s cost and environmental impact. Customers accustomed to next-day free delivery can play an essential role by choosing more sustainable delivery options.

Retailers and logistic service providers could allow customers to wait for their delivery or pick up their parcel from collection-and-delivery points. A recent study examined how customers (the parcel recipients) can be stimulated to choose a more sustainable delivery option and how this affects their satisfaction. The researchers examined two delivery options that allow LSPs to consolidate deliveries and thus increase drop density and reduce the number of trips, namely making customers wait up to three days for their parcel and asking customers to collect their parcel from a parcel locker.

Using two scenario-based experiments, researchers found that customers can be steered towards more sustainable last-mile delivery choices using financial and non-financial incentives. In the form of a surcharge for the least sustainable option, financial incentives were very effective at extrinsically motivating customers to choose a more sustainable option yet hurt their satisfaction.

The results provide insights for retailers to include sustainable delivery options at the check-out and contribute to decision-making on urban planning and utilization of urban space for e-commerce activities, as both parcel lockers and pick-up points require urban space.

Source: Kokkinou, A., Quak, H., Mitas, O., & Mandemakers, A. (2024). Should I wait or should I go? Encouraging customers to make the more sustainable delivery choice. Research in Transportation Economics, 103, 101388.

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