Greenwashing in online retail?

Online retail Greenwashing in online retail?

Published on 14.10.2019 by Anne Wolf, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Post CH Ltd

Swiss Post delivered over 138 million parcels in 2018. The lion’s share of these were consignments and returned items from the booming field of online retail. This segment of the retail market grows by 10 percent each year – and there is no end in sight to this growth. This should be welcome news to Swiss Post.

Online retail may offer a great deal of potential, but it results in many challenges that need to be tackled on several fronts.

First front: logistics capacity is straining at the limits

More and more people are making purchases online instead of in store. Ideally, they want to be unpacking their order the next day and to have the option of returning it.

This of course leads to a continual increase in the parcel volumes handled by Swiss Post. However, revenue and profit are unable to keep up.

Second front: the competition never sleeps

Swiss Post is not the only parcel delivery provider in Switzerland. While competing firms are able to trade in a very agile manner as they are firmly private sector entities, Swiss Post’s hands are tied in some respects. This is not all bad news, but does make it more difficult to adapt to the changing market.

Third front: online retail has a sustainability problem

Online retail is facing increasing criticism. Various topics come to the fore at different times: sometimes it’s poor working conditions at online retailers, sometimes the high number of returns and, at other times, the destruction of returned goods.

While young people are holding climate strikes and making political gains, Swiss Post sits atop its mountain of parcels and runs the risk of losing sight of its own sustainability goals. What can be done to help with this?

Turning the challenge into an opportunity

Is Swiss Post able to make online retail more sustainable, and should this be a goal? How should it start? Can it impact the upstream chain thanks to its market power? Are the latest ecological shipping options still capable of satisfying increasing customer needs? How can Swiss Post hold its own against the competition? What damage could face Swiss Post if the media onslaught towards online retail continues?

Anne Wolf, Head of Corporate Responsibility, speaks on this topic at Connecta Bern.

Anne Wolf, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Post CH Ltd

Anne Wolf has been Head of Corporate Responsibility at Swiss Post since 2011. After studying geography and German studies, she worked in international cooperation in South America, then at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, the IT service providers for the energy supplier E.ON, Munich Re and SBB. She graduated with an MBA and has been Vice President at Swiss E-Mobility since 2016.

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