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How To Have a Sustainable Christmas With DHL

Logistics advice · 5 min read

How to make your logistics sustainable this Christmas

This Christmas, sustainable logistics are in the spotlight. Consumers are increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions and they expect your business to do something about it. 

Christmas is on the horizon which means that, once again, we’ll be shopping online in record numbers. But in addition to the predicaments of where to find the best bargains and what to buy their Grandma, consumers have another pressing concern: Sustainability. Consumers are torn: they want the bargains that can only be found online, but they’re becoming more and more influenced by the very real need to minimize the cost to the environment.

In a recent survey1, over a third (37%) of shoppers said they now base their buying decisions on retailers’ ethical and sustainability policies, whilst 67% claim to care more about the environmental impact of the goods they buy today than they did five years ago. What’s more, they expect brands to remove this friction of guilt.

This peak holiday shopping season – when most of your new customers will be coming to your site – is the perfect time to layout your green credentials and ensure they come back next year, and beyond. Read on to discover how you can make your logistics more sustainable. 

food packaging


Before we focus on logistics, let’s take a quick detour to your packaging. After all, over 1 in 2 e-commerce consumers (52%) in the UK and US said they want brands to create products with less packaging2. You may have even seen the “packaging shaming” trend on social media – customers posting pictures of their small deliveries arriving swamped in excessive and unnecessary boxes and layers of wrapping.

To stay shame free, explore plastic-free, sustainable packaging options. There are plenty of companies out there doing innovative things within the sector. Noissue, for example, creates made-to-order, custom packaging, with every product 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable.

Calculate your emissions

You can only set yourself sustainability targets if you know where your business currently stands. Software solutions such as Planetly’s Climate Impact Manager3 platform will help you identify your biggest emission hotspots and compare them to your competitors. From there, you can begin to make changes; whether it’s reducing electricity usage in your offices and warehouses, or making the switch to renewable fuels. Get calculating!

yellow vans in a row


A key part of the e-commerce supply chain is transportation, and according to Boston Consulting Group, transportation activities account for 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions4. Partnering with a logistics provider with a world-leading sustainability commitment is a significant way e-commerce businesses can reduce the environmental impact of their deliveries. Enter DHL…

The global logistics leader has a mission to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and as such has set a target to electrify 60% of its last-mile deliveries and have 80,000 e-vehicles on the road by 2030. Furthermore, in August 2021, DHL made aviation history by ordering 12 fully electric Alice eCargo planes from aircraft manufacturer Eviation5. Who would have thought aviation could be so green?!

Seedling sprouting

Carbon offsetting

Ever been shopping online and noticed the brand you’re buying from say it will plant a tree to “offset” your purchase? It’s becoming increasingly popular for e-commerce businesses to demonstrate their eco-credentials to customers through a carbon offsetting scheme such as this. ClimatePartner6 is a sustainable e-commerce solution that helps online retailers calculate their carbon footprints, and then offers a portfolio of climate protection projects from which they can select to offset their emissions.

Meanwhile, DHL Express has a GoGreen service – a carbon-neutral shipping option that helps customers calculate their transport-related emissions and then offset them through external climate protection projects. Those who use the service receive GoGreen stickers to place on their shipments – to show customers their participation – as well as an annual certificate stating the total amount of carbon dioxide they offset that year.

Missed deliveries

Don’t you just hate missing a delivery you were excited about? Well, your customers do too.

A 2021 report from GBG found that 24% of UK businesses saw more than one in 10 orders fail to be delivered to customers at the first attempt7. Globally, missed deliveries are costing businesses billions of dollars a year – 68% of those surveyed said that failed and late deliveries are a “significant cost” to their operations – whilst the redelivery attempt(s) means more emissions.

Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to reduce your missed delivery rate:

  • Give customers the option to choose a precise delivery timeslot so they can be sure they’ll be home.
  • Invest in tracking technology that sends customers regular SMS and email notifications of their shipments’ status.
  • Utilize parcel lockers and service points. Customers can pick up their deliveries at a time convenient to them, whilst a courier can deliver several parcels to a single destination at the same time, saving your business money and reducing transport emissions.
  • Ask customers where parcels can be left if they’re not home – with a neighbor or at a nominated safe space, for example.
hand sealing a package


What goes out…sometimes comes back. Invespcro estimates that at least 30% of all products ordered online are returned8. Selling clothes and shoes? Bad news, this rate is even higher in the fashion and clothing sectors.

You could attempt to deter customers from returning so many items by passing on the costs to them, but when you consider 49% of online consumers will actively check a brand’s returns policy before committing to buy9, it's perhaps not a wise decision. Instead, turn your attention to reducing your returns rate in other ways. If consumers receive exactly what they thought they would, they’ll be more likely to keep their orders, and that’s where detailed product descriptions, high-res photos and videos are important. If you sell clothing, it’s worth researching the augmented reality solutions that allow customers to virtually “try on” clothes before buying.

8returns10 is a self-serve returns platform that will enable you to automate your returns process. It will generate QR code shipping labels for your customers (so no paper usage), and collect data on the returns to help you understand why certain items are coming back, and then take action against the feedback.

DHL Express offers a returns service that enables customers to drop off their returns at a local ServicePoint. From there, DHL will collate all your parcels and deliver them to you in a batch. This means convenience for your customers, and a more efficient logistics process for your business.


Inspired by what you’ve read? Check out our guide to reducing wastage along the supply chain to win further green points.

1 - Ad Assoc, November 2021

2 - Statista, published September 2021

3 - Planetly

4 - Boston Consulting Group, July 2020

5 - Eviation

6 - ClimatePartner

7 - Retail Times, March 2021

8 - Invespcro, April 2021

9 - Narvar Consumer Report, June 2017

10 - 8returns

Anna Thompson
Anna Thompson Discover Content Team

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