THE SUSTAINABILITY QUESTION:
Many consumers wonder if having a product shipped from the brand or picking it up in store/delivery from store is more environmentally friendly.
Factors such as mode of transportation for pick-up and shipping speed play a role, but overall picking up items using more eco-friendly transportation wins out.
Lucky provides inventory availability that allows shoppers to know if their items are in stock so they can pick them up in the most sustainable way possible.
You’re looking to restock on one of their favorite products, a conditioner from a popular beauty brand. You see Lucky on their website, which shows that it’s in stock at your local Sephora. You wonder, “Is it more environmentally friendly for me to have it shipped to my house, order it online and pick it up in-store, or delivered from the store same-day?” It can depend on a lot of factors, but there are many circumstances where it makes more environmental sense to pick up your order in-store.
For this example, let’s say this hypothetical customer is living in West Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA. They see that the conditioner is in stock at the Sephora located in the Grove shopping center, 1.8 miles from their house by car. If this person were to drive the 3.6 mile round trip, and the average vehicle emits 0.47 pounds of emissions per passenger-mile (Congressional Budget Office), they would emit 1.69 pounds of CO2 equivalent. If this person decided to walk to and from the nearby bus stop and take the 2.6 mile round bus trip, and the average bus emits 0.39 pounds of emissions per passenger-mile (Congressional Budget Office), they would emit 1.01 pounds of CO2 equivalent. And if they decided to walk or bike the 3.4 mile round trip, they wouldn’t create any emissions, and would have gotten some lovely exercise.
Lucky also offers local shipping, so this customer could have the product shipped from the Sephora at the Grove to their house. In this case, if a light-duty delivery truck traveled the 1.8 miles from Sephora to the customer’s house, while also delivering other packages along the way, the emissions are so small per package they are essentially zero. A light-duty vehicle emits about 0.77 pounds of CO2 per mile. If the truck traveled the same distance, but delivered no other packages along the way, the trip would emit about 1.38 pounds of emissions. Local delivery emits less than driving your passenger vehicle, but more than taking public transportation, biking, or walking to pick up the product.
On the other hand, what if this customer decided to have the item shipped to their house from the beauty brand’s facilities? Assuming the brand ships from their New York facilities, that means this product would need to travel approximately 2,784 miles to reach the customer. We estimated that the package would weigh approximately one pound. Using EPA standards, we created formulas to determine the emissions that shipping this product across the country would create 4.5 pounds of CO2. This calculation doesn’t take into account the emissions and waste created from the shipping materials, which would certainly make this total higher. Efficiencies of shipping this with other packages between distribution centers is not factored as well.
For this customer, picking up the product at their local Sephora where it is already located makes much more environmental sense than having it shipped to their house from the brand. Plus, they can get it the same day!
The most sustainable option would be walking, biking, or taking public transportation to an in-store pickup (in that order).
Then, the next most sustainable would be local delivery from the Sephora store.
Next would be driving your own vehicle to pickup in-store.
Lastly, shipping from a warehouse would likely be the least sustainable.
This difference in emissions is one of the reasons Lucky empowers businesses to show customers local availability of their products in retail locations in real time. Customers can strategically plan their shopping to reduce overall emissions and packaging waste.
Picking up a product in-store can be a more environmentally friendly alternative to shipping, if consumers are conscious about how they get to the store (Weideli 3). To maximize efficiency, if a customer is going to drive, they should try to make the store a stop on a trip they were already going to take, like one from work to home. Or they can “trip chain,” which is when you combine multiple errands in one area into one trip, reducing the emissions per errand. Shoppers who drive in their personal cars and are only making the trip to purchase that one item are probably better off having the item shipped (preferably non-expedited) (Weideli 2). The best way to decrease total emissions and make in-store pickup the most eco-friendly option is taking public transportation, walking or biking (Weideli 3).
And for customers who prefer the in-person shopping experience, Lucky display of real-time inventory can allow that customer to know if an item is in stock before they head to the store.
Making this information available to customers prevents them from arriving and finding out the item they’re looking for is out of stock, meaning the emissions created from them traveling to the store served no real purpose.
12 in stock
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Another environmental concern when it comes to delivering packages is the actual shipping materials. Most conventional shipping packaging is, unfortunately, made from plastic and styrofoam, which are harmful to the environment. They often end up as pollution, or if they do make it to the landfill they take hundreds of years to break down (Lawton). Also, the natural resources and energy used to create this packaging have an impact on the environment and climate change. Picking up items in store eliminates the need for this packaging and reduces the overall emissions and waste from the purchase.
Lucky, the brands we work with, and retailers like Sephora, believe in giving customers the information they need to make the best purchasing decisions for themselves, their lifestyles, and the planet. We want to encourage shoppers to use in-store pickup when they are able to walk, bike, take public transit, or drive to retail stores in more eco-friendly ways. We believe that when we can give more information to customers, they can make informed shopping decisions that benefit themselves, businesses, and the planet.
This report was powered by Ecodrive. Ecodrive works with businesses to plant verified trees for customer actions, such as online orders or retail purchases. They plant mangrove trees in Kenya and Madagascar to absorb climate-warming carbon dioxide, protect coastlines from erosion and storm surge, create employment opportunities for impoverished communities, and restore natural habitat. They use on-the-ground monitoring and blockchain technology to track their real-time climate impact and to ensure that the trees are actually planted and never double-counted. Their verification process allows them to be one of the most tangible and transparent climate solutions in the world, helping you to build trust with your customers.
“Emissions of Carbon Dioxide in the Transportation Sector.” Congressional Budget Office, Dec. 2022 https://www.cbo.gov/publication/58861.
Lawton, George. “The Environmental Challenges of Last-Mile Delivery” TechTarget, 13 July 2021, https://www.techtarget.com/searcherp/feature/The-environmental-challenges-of- last-mile-delivery.
Weideli, Dimitri. “Environmental Analysis of US Online Shopping MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics.” (2013). http://ctl.mit.edu/sites/ctl.mit.edu/files/library/public/Dimitri-Weideli- Environmental-Analysis-of-US-Online-Shopping_0.pdf.
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