Sustainable ecommerce and the challenge of online returns

In episode number 15 of UR, we talk to Mariana Silvera, head of Pyxis' Environmental Commission, to learn about the impacts of ecommerce and how to mitigate them.
Sustainable ecommerce and the challenge of online returns

In addition, we ask ourselves, what happens after a change of clothes when we buy online? This issue in the ecommerce world represents a significant number of returns, and its effects are not favourable for the sector.

Players in the retail world are convinced that one of the biggest challenges ahead is to decipher garment sizes and move away from the standards we are used to.

A report by Levi’s details that 40% of returns from the online shop are due to sizing problems, but not because of a shipping error, but because the consumer chose the wrong size. This hurts ecommerce processes, so will algorithms be able to make the decision for us? The teams at Levi’s and Nike assume that they can be of great help, and are already implementing innovative changes to their websites in this regard.

Is e-commerce a problem or a help to sustainability?

Given the growth of e-commerce in recent years, and the fact that it is an option that consumers are increasingly choosing, Mariana tells us that it has come to generate new environmental problems, and to “exaggerate some that traditional commerce already had, for example, over-consumption”.

Another problem is the marketing of these sites, which practice “more intrusive and less controlled” methods.

Mariana says that deliveries, since they are in constant circulation, “have a much larger carbon footprint”, adding that there is double traffic if there are returns and increasing it when it is done within 24 hours.

In addition to the original packaging of the product, there is also the packaging that is used so that it does not spoil, where the most commonly used materials are plastic, nylon and cardboard. The greater the distance between the origin and destination of the purchase, the worse the situation of each of these factors becomes.

If you are interested in how sustainability can cross in different ways the new purchasing processes, and the importance of making the right decisions when choosing and consuming different products, you can’t miss this episode of UR. Listen to it here.


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