According to a recent EHI study, sustainability of packaging is the most urgent optimization measure for online retail.
The EHI Retail Institute in Cologne surveyed 72 online retailers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland about their requirements and trends in shipping and returns management and published the results in the study “Shipping and Returns Management in E-Commerce 2021”. Sustainability is also becoming increasingly relevant in shipping and returns management, is one of the study’s findings. Online retailers see the greatest optimization opportunities in more sustainable shipping packaging. In the EHI study “Shipping and Returns Management in E-Commerce 2021”, most respondents (24 percent) state that the sustainability of packaging is the most urgent optimization measure. “Nevertheless, ecological criteria such as sustainability in general or the reusability of returns do not yet play the role for online retailers that one might expect against the background of the current discussions,” explains Thomas Kempcke, Head of Research Logistics, and author of the study.
In addition to the general focus on sustainability, the respondents attach importance to an optimal size ratio (20 percent), an optimal use of materials (17 percent) and the avoidance of filler material (15 percent) when it comes to packaging. Only ten percent of online retailers consider the reusability of packaging or the use of reusable packaging to be topical optimization measures.
A good half of the respondents (53 percent) can resell at least two-thirds of the returned items as A-grade goods. The proportion is particularly high among retailers in the fashion and accessories and sports and leisure sectors, which are heavily affected by returns. If a certain proportion of returns cannot be resold as A-grade goods, this is for a variety of reasons. For almost two-thirds of the online retailers surveyed (62 percent), the reason is that the quality of the items in question has deteriorated to such an extent that refurbishment is not possible or is too costly. All other reasons, such as signs of use (24 percent), limited shelf life, or hygiene requirements (18 percent each), have decreased in importance.