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Simple Adjustment Enables Online Consumers to Choose More Sustainable Delivery Options

Rotterdam, June 26, 2023: Consumers are more likely to choose a more sustainable delivery option when the online store actively provides information about the most responsible choice. This is evident from the research conducted in The Netherlands by valantic and Dijksterhuis & Van Baaren on behalf of Thuiswinkel.org and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, among customers of online stores Blokker, Hunkemöller, Lobbes.nl, and Prénatal.

The research, which involved more than 500,000 customers, reveals that relatively simple interventions on the checkout page of an online store encourage consumers to select a more sustainable delivery option. The default selection of the most sustainable delivery option, combined with a sustainability logo or text, leads to more than twice as many choices for sustainable delivery compared to the control condition. The study demonstrates that informing consumers about the option with the lowest CO2 emissions results in significant sustainability gains without compromising conversion rates.

“At valantic, we strive for a sustainable future. By actively encouraging our customers to choose sustainable delivery options, we actively contribute to reducing CO2 emissions in the e-commerce sector. It’s particularly exciting that we were able to conduct this research in collaboration with Thuiswinkel and the Dutch government. We hope that it will inspire other e-commerce players to take practical steps and integrate sustainability into their operations and offerings,” said Jelmer Spoelstra, Managing Director at valantic.

Guiding Customers to the Most Sustainable Choice

The e-commerce sector has the ambition to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and is working hard on deliveries with minimal CO2 emissions. “Online ordering is very convenient. Often, the doorbell rings the next day, and you have your new shoes in your hands. Package delivery is already efficiently organized, but it still comes with CO2 emissions. This research shows that you can reduce that impact by choosing the prefilled most sustainable delivery method. For example, you can pick up your package at a collection point or choose bicycle delivery. That reduces emissions and doesn’t cost anything. It gives an extra good feeling when you have your package in hand. This can really make a difference, and I’m very excited about it,” says Vivianne Heijnen, State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management.

As the choice of a specific delivery option has implications for the CO2 impact of an online order, consumers can contribute to reducing CO2 emissions in parcel delivery by selecting more sustainable options. “The Thuiswinkel Sustainability Monitor has already shown that consumers are eager to shop sustainably but are unsure how to do so. I believe that webshops and package carriers will seize these opportunities,” stated Marlene ten Ham, Director of Thuiswinkel.org.

Four Behavior Influence Techniques in the Checkout Process

The research employed four behavior influence techniques: associations through logos, information about the most sustainable delivery option, default selection of the sustainable option, and social proof: ‘this option is often chosen.’ These techniques were tested individually and in combination. All interventions were presented on the checkout page, where online store customers choose from available delivery options (home delivery, pickup from a collection point, or instore pickup).

The study tested eleven different behavior interventions among a representative group of over 500,000 customers during the ordering process. The large number of observations allowed for statistical analysis to determine how consumer behavior can effectively be influenced to choose the most sustainable delivery option.

In 35 out of 88 intervention conditions, an intervention prompted customers to select the more sustainable delivery option, with the majority of these cases involving multiple interventions. “We often observed that webshops choose one method, such as a logo or a sentence. However, it is now evident that a combination of methods works significantly better, especially when combining the default selection with another behavior technique. For both Thuiswinkel.org and webshops, we will now explore how these interventions can be implemented in compliance with sustainability claim regulations and in line with the recently published ACM Sustainability Claims Guideline. We will assist our members in this process, and this topic will also be addressed in the sustainability standards we are developing,” stated Ten Ham.

“Sustainability, one of Hunkemöller’s core values, is an important guiding principle in shaping our business operations. This research demonstrates that the government, industry associations, and businesses form a powerful trilogy in developing measures to promote sustainability. The results of this study are very promising, and we expect to apply them concretely in achieving a more sustainable checkout process,” said Bert Middendorp, Head of E-Commerce at Hunkemöller.

Report Simple Adjustment Enables Online Consumers to Choose More Sustainable Delivery Options (Dutch only)

The report can be downloaded for free here (Dutch only)

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Team members of research group with Alicja van Eeuwijk (thuiswinkel.org), Koos Tamis (Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management), Lotte Mul-der (valantic NL) and participating webshops (Blokker and Prenatal)

Source: valantic

Team members of research group with Alicja van Eeuwijk (thuiswinkel.org), Koos Tamis (Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management), Lotte Mulder (valantic NL) and participating webshops (Blokker and Prenatal)

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Source: valantic

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Malte Limbrock

Public Relations Officer