How well do supply and demand fit in with sustainability in online retail?

Online retail How well do supply and demand fit in with sustainability in online retail?

Published on 12 October 2021 by Dr Thomas Wozniak, Research Coordinator and lecturer at the Institute of Communication and Marketing IKM, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, and Ricarda Raemy, market research specialist at Post CH Ltd.

What do Swiss consumers want in terms of sustainability in online shopping and how is the Swiss online retail sector responding to these expectations? Discover the answers in our comparison.

Comparison of online retailer and customer survey 2021 with focus on sustainability

The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts has conducted the Online Retailer Survey 2021 on sustainability in Swiss e-commerce on behalf of Swiss Post for the second consecutive time. In order to find out consumers’ opinions as well, questions on sustainability were asked as part of the e-commerce trend indicator. This B2C study was carried out by the University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich in cooperation with Swiss Post. Their results make for an interesting comparison with the results of the online retailer survey.

The availability of eco-friendly shipping options still lags behind demand

Many online retailers are open to sustainable logistics solutions – especially for the last mile (76%). But only a few offer suitable shipping options. Online shops can position themselves here in terms of environmentally friendly e-commerce, especially with climate-friendly shipping options. And, by bundling partial deliveries, offering the option of collection from the location (Click & Collect) or a track-and-trace link to increase the first time delivery rate, online shops can meet their customers’ desire for eco-friendly shipping.

Reusable packaging with the greatest potential

Sustainable packaging will play a crucial role in the coming years. Consumers increasingly disapprove of packaging waste. There is lots of potential for retailers to resort to reusable packaging: while 69% of consumers find such packaging important, only 24% of online retailers offer it. However, adopting reusable packaging poses some challenges, including purchase costs, cleaning, inspection and maintenance. To keep sustainable, it is of course also important that the goods arrive undamaged. And lastly, it should be made easy for customers to return the packaging.

The tasks of running an online shop sustainably and handling returns are largely underestimated

When online retailers are asked what is important to their customers, two areas in particular are underestimated. Only 24% of online retailers think that the sustainable running of an online shop is important to their customers. The fact is, however, that 58% of consumers consider this important. Online retailers are also far off the mark when it comes to assessing the importance of dealing with returns in a sustainable manner: 37% think it is important to their customers, while 70% of consumers consider it important.

The vast majority of the online shops that took part in the survey do not destroy returned products. However, end consumers clearly want sustainable solutions when dealing with returned goods. To forestall the rate of returns, retailers can, for example, identify the reasons for complaints and respond to them by providing detailed descriptions and product ratings. Improved personalization can also help reduce returns – e.g. offering size recommendations based on previous orders (and returns).


Discover all the results now


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.

Ricarda Raemy

Ricarda Raemy is a market researcher and customer experience manager at Swiss Post.

((commentsAmount)) Comments

There was an error during request.
  • (( comment.firstname )) (( comment.lastname )) (( comment.published )) (( comment.content ))

Contact us

Do you have questions for our experts, or do you need advice? We will be only too happy to help!

Contact us