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Online Retailer Survey Sustainability in E-Commerce

Published on 21.10.2020 by Ricarda Raemy, Customer Insights Specialist, Post CH Ltd and Dr. Thomas Wozniak, research coordinator and lecturer, Institute of Communication and Marketing IKM at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts – School of Business

With the Online Retailer Survey 2020, Swiss Post and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts have, for the first time, looked at sustainability in Swiss e-commerce from the point of view of the provider. Some 227 online shops took part in this B2B study. 

The study primarily focused on social and environmental aspects along the various stages of the online shop value chain. Summarised below are the product, packaging and shipping highlights.

Products: at least half are produced sustainably, yet there is potential when it comes to labelling and retrievability 

Social aspects are taken into account more often than environmental ones when we look at the product ranges: at least half of the products offered by online shops are described in the shops’ own terms as eco-friendly. However, at 77 percent, the share of products manufactured in fair working conditions is considerably higher.

In terms of retrievability, there is room for improvement when it comes to sustainable products as only a fraction of the online shops specifically promote these products as such (14 percent) or provide sustainability as a search filter (11 percent). Steps could certainly be taken to further accommodate the consumer here.

Packaging: more than just the product involved

Size-optimized packaging is already fairly widespread (72 percent), allowing transport capacities to be used more efficiently. Recycled material is a popular choice (56 percent). Around half of the online shops say they ship products in the original packaging (49 percent), while one third manage to avoid any use of plastic filler. Three out of ten online shops do not use any filler material at all.

Shipping: a sustainable route to the recipient?

Options that are more complex to implement, such as slower delivery (16 percent) or locally adapted logistics solutions (e. g. bicycle delivery services in combination with trains or even e-cargo bikes; 15 percent), as well as carbon-neutral shipping (without surcharge; 15 percent), are not offered as shipping options all that often. And yet customers are very much open to the idea of sustainable logistics solutions – e. g. in the last mile (75 percent). 

Was wollen die Kunden? Erkenntnisse aus dem Stimmungsbarometer der HWZ

Online retailers are meeting customer requirements to a certain extent. Customers consider it particularly important to ship goods in specifically adapted packaging (75 percent) and that the packaging and filling material from returns are recycled (73 percent). Reusable packaging presents a potential opportunity for online retailers  (73 percent). 

© 2020 Post CH Ltd | Sustainability in Swiss e-commerce 2020 & Swiss e-commerce trend indicator 2020

Today’s consumers are first and foremost interested in information about where the products come from (79 percent) and how they are made (65 percent). Over the next two years, online retailers are anticipating a greater interest in sustainable transport and shipping. Recognizing these consumer needs and being able to implement them cost-efficiently will give online retailers a significant edge and thus a competitive advantage.

Go to the studies

The physical Connecta event will not be held this year – the most important findings on sustainability in Swiss online retail will be discussed in a video interview. 

An alternative programme is available through Connecta TV, Doc and Talk – find out more at:



Ricarda Raemy

Ricarda Raemy, Customer Insights Specialist, Post CH Ltd
Ricarda Raemy is a market researcher, design thinker and customer experience manager at Swiss Post.

Dr. Thomas Wozniak

Dr. Thomas Wozniak is research coordinator and lecturer at the Institute of Communication and Marketing IKM at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts – School of Business.

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