Speed vs sustainability: are customer priorities changing?

By Paazl
July 26, 2018

Customers love brands that are sustainable, ethical and make positive environmental impacts. Being sustainable and using this in your brand messaging brings valuable PR, trust and the favour of like-minded consumers. But is the consumers’ quest to go green surpassing their need for convenience? Let’s find out how customers view sustainability and if their attitudes are changing.

E-commerce and the environment

E-commerce is all about the delivery of goods. So carbon dioxide emissions, air quality and congestion – especially in urban areas – will always be a worry.

Customers share these concerns. In a survey conducted by B2C Europe, 59% of consumers are concerned about air pollution caused by e-commerce deliveries. This is also backed up by a study conducted by ABN Amro and Logistiek.nl where 87% of respondents felt transport in cities should be cleaner and smarter.

Customers view sustainability as an area of concern. But how does this affect their delivery choices?

Customer delivery preferences

72% of customers in the UK are more likely to shop online if same-day delivery is available (Ecommerce News).

71% of customers state that having free shipping options is the most important factor when checking out online (UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper).

Speed and cost are important to customers because they make shopping online that bit more convenient. Although customers are also concerned about emissions. Are they willing to sacrifice speed for cleaner delivery?

In 2016 Dutch consumers spent 190 million Euros on Chinese e-commerce websites. While undoubtedly this is partly due to lower price points, it does show that speed of delivery is not the most important factor for customers when deciding where to shop, as deliveries from these sites can take up to 40 days.

How do customers view sustainability?

Three out of five consumers think the logistics sector is not doing enough to tackle sustainability (ABN Amro and Logistiek.nl).

85% of customers would choose a slower delivery method if it was communicated that it would cause less emissions (B2C Europe).

69% of customers are more motivated to purchase from retailers who have sustainable practices.

Customers are becoming more environmentally conscious. Sustainable brands are quick to communicate how the methods they use to manufacture their products are environmentally efficient. But what about delivery?

As customers prefer to buy from sustainable brands, are brands missing a trick by not offering sustainable delivery options?

Alternative ways to deliver

Delivery carriers are investing in greener ways to deliver, particularly in the last mile. From electric tricycles to customised bikes, carriers are expanding their fleets with greener, smarter and cleaner vehicles. Meet five environmentally-friendly delivery vehicles and the carriers behind them.

There has also been a rise in sustainable delivery carriers who are offering super-fast – in some cases same-hour – delivery with zero carbon emissions. Stuart, Fietskoriers and Pedals are three examples of carriers who are changing the face of e-commerce delivery. Bikes carry out the lion’s share of these deliveries. In urban areas bikes are no slower than cars or delivery vans, so customers can have the speed that they want without tainting their carbon footprint.


Speed and cost have traditionally been the two most important factors in terms of e-commerce delivery. But now a third factor, sustainability is creeping in.

With express delivery generally having a higher carbon footprint than standard delivery. It is encouraging to see that customers are prepared to sacrifice speed for sustainability.

If brands were to provide multiple delivery options and communicate the carbon footprint of each, it will help them to appeal to environmentally-conscious customers.

More inspiration.