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Source: Online commerce and mobility: orientations towards a sustainable model in Catalonia. Generalitat de Catalunya

Towards a sustainable online shopping model

Currently, e-commerce generates 53 million purchases per year in Catalonia, 73% are delivered at home and only 15% are collected at physical points of proximity. In order to reduce the environmental impact and logistics, and to promote local trade, the Government wants to increase up to 25% deliveries of online purchases at physical points of proximity in 2020.

E-commerce has established itself as a new way of buying. The impact of new technologies on society has led to new consumption habits. Although it still occupies a small percentage of the total purchases generated by the citizens of Catalonia, online shopping is a habit that is rooting and growing among the population.

E-commerce generates some 53 million online purchases per year in Catalonia. Of these, 73% are delivered at home, 12% at the office and only 15% of the total purchases are collected thanks to some form of Click & Collect

In this sense, the Generalitat has drawn up, through the General Directorate of Commerce, the study “Online commerce and mobility: orientations towards a sustainable model in Catalonia“. A study in which online shopping habits and delivery preferences have been analysed, mainly to provide knowledge tools to the commercial sector -businesses and companies- and administrations for the implementation of targeted actions to promote a sustainable online shopping collection service, with lower environmental impact and mobility, and at the same time to boost local commerce.

One of the main information provided by this study is that e-commerce generates some 53 million online purchases of the year in Catalonia. Of these, 73% are delivered at home, 12% in the office and only 15% of the total purchases are collected through some form of Click & Collect: 6.2% in store, 8.7 % at the point of collection and 0.2% at bar / commerce of confidence.

The forecast is an increase of 21.7%, reaching 64 million purchases, which would mean 47 million deliveries at home over the next year

On the other hand, the study also shows that online purchases generate 39 million trips for home deliveries per year in Catalonia, that is, 2.9 deliveries per second. Of these, 15% require a second visit and 8.2% are returned, generating a logistics “absurd” in 23% of cases.

In this sense, by way of estimation, if next year purchase intentions are applied according to the current purchases online, the report says that the forecast is an increase of 21.7%, to reach 64 million purchase, which would mean 47 million home deliveries next year.

With this information, it is noted that the destination of purchases is the buyers’ address, in most cases, which means an impact on the environment in our cities, also going to the detriment of the promotion of the sustainable and proximity trade model that characterizes Catalonia.

The Generalitat focuses on 3 objectives. First, increase from 15% of Click & Collect purchases to 25% in 2020; second, to ensure that by 2020 at least half of online buyers are aware of the impact that their purchases on the network have on: mobility, packaging and air quality; and third, achieve that all the municipalities of Catalonia have at least one collection point by 2020

Currently, 1 in 3 of the online buyers (33.5%) surveyed in the study claim to be aware of the negative effects of home deliveries, in relation to environmental impact, air quality and logistics. Thus, buyers who are sensitive and aware of this aspect have a lower percentage of deliveries at home (58.4%), which is much lower than that of those buyers who are not very sensitive (81.6%). The importance of raising awareness among online shoppers about the environmental effects and in relation to the air quality of home deliveries is evident.

Given these data, the Generalitat focuses on 3 objectives to be achieved in the next two years. First, move from 15% of Click & Collect purchases to 25% in 2020, in order to promote a sustainable trade model and attract visitor flows to the centre of the cities. This measure would suppose at least more than 5.25 million additional visits to the commercial axes of Catalonia. The second objective is to achieve that by 2020 at least half of online shoppers are aware of the impact that their purchases on the network have on: mobility, packaging and air quality. And finally, it is intended that by 2020 all the Catalonia municipalities have at least one collection point, and that its implementation is adapted to the urban characteristics of each population.

These purposes are to be carried out through different strategies, in particular 6 actions are marked:

  • Incorporate online purchases and deliveries of these in the strategic plans of commerce and city (urban planning).
  • Promote responsible online purchasing practices to group orders, make delivery schedules more flexible (wider swaths) or prioritize deliveries in off-peak hours.
  • Work with commercial companies to promote responsible sales, in areas such as reducing excess packaging, concentrating different orders in a single delivery, or promoting home deliveries in sustainable means of transport.
  • Develop awareness campaigns about the negative effects of the deliveries of online purchases.
  • Generate spaces for debate and analysis with the operators of the different sectors.
  • And finally, promote Click & Collect in stores, through trade incentives, and in urban spaces, through collaborations between the different Public Administrations and the private sector (for example, empty stores and merchants’ associations).