Sustainability in logistics: is the last mile up for a change?

Developments such as climate change, a higher awareness of buyers and social media have influenced the (strategy of the) logistics sector and many other industries. Businesses and other organizations want to show customers that they are close to them, that they care about the (environmental) problems that are out there and that they have an active role in battling them. Think of green energy (wind), the choice of bank and insurance company investments (no investments in weapon industries), fair trade products (honest share for poor farmers), insights in production processes (labour performed in healthy conditions), etcetera. Sustainability in logistics is therefore a relevant topic, especially because of all the planned transport that comes with it.

Why is sustainability in logistics important? How can you as a webshop owner use the role of the customer in the checkout process to steer towards sustainability? And in what ways does Kolibri Logistiek try to realize and maintain sustainability? In this article we will discuss sustainability in logistics on one side and using the directing role of the customer regarding the last mile on the other side.

The importance of sustainability in logistics

The delivery of all the packages results in a lot of delivery vans and a lot of emission of CO2. Besides (local) governments stimulating businesses to search for innovative solutions, consumers themselves are more aware when it comes to sustainability.

A few years ago, surveys regarding this matter were conducted. West Monroe (a full-service business and technology consultancy) conducted a survey among North American consumers and Bearing Point conducted a similar survey among European consumers. The results were quite remarkable. It seemed that more than half of the consumers are willing to pay at least 5% higher prices for products ordered online if they are delivered sustainably. Next to that, 76% would wait at least one extra day for climate-friendly transport.

This calls for a general change in managing the last mile. According to Walther Ploos van Amstel, there is a task for both parcel deliverers and webshops/suppliers to achieve this. This includes smaller vehicles, a better traffic flow and smart supply of residential areas for the parcel deliverers. For webshops and suppliers it mainly means taking a closer look at the packaging. Too much air is being shipped. Smart packaging solutions are needed to reduce the size and make space for more packages to improve efficiency in the delivery process.

Using the customer’s choice in the checkout process to improve sustainability in logistics

When a customer presses the ‘Order’ button, choices regarding the delivery have been made and the movement of the product from A to B will start. As discussed in one of our previous and older articles (Dutch), the last mile can be a headache for (starting) webshop owners. Most big online stores standardly offer free shipping and next-day-delivery when ordering before midnight. Some of them even offer customers the choice to deliver the package in a certain time slot, for example between 7 and 9 PM. As said in our referred article, time slots can be an obstacle for sustainability since there will be a variable load with each time slot. However, you can also make use of them to improvise and optimize your efficiency.

Benefit from the checkout process

Here are some tips to optimize the interaction between you as a webshop owner and your logistics provider:

  • Offer consumers multiple delivery options in the checkout process, but reduce them to the ones that you can use efficiently.
  • Invest in a partner that focuses on sustainability in the delivery (by e.g. the use of electric vehicles to reduce emissions).
  • Show the consumer that you care about sustainability by giving them insight in your process.
  • Refine the process between an incoming order and the final delivery.
  • When using delivery time slots: analyze the slots that are being used most and adjust your planning.

The role of Kolibri Logistiek in realizing sustainability as a logistics partner

Kolibri Logistiek partners with DHL, one of the largest global delivery companies in the world. DHL innovates and invests in sustainability (example 1, example 2) and supports partners by providing the right tools. Take a look at our new DHL electric delivery car and charging station (down below) that we will now be able to use.

Electric DHL delivery car at Kolibri Logistiek

Not only because of this, but also because of the refinement of our planning process, we do our best to make the last mile more sustainable as a logistic distributor.


Sustainability in logistics is becoming more important by the day. Giving the customer a choice in the checkout process when ordering products can greatly improve sustainability in the logistics process. Customers will not only be more satisfied with the range of options, but will also keep in mind that choosing a certain delivery method will have positive effects. You can make use of this by optimizing your checkout process.

Want to know how much you can save on your last mile and at the same time invest in sustainability by partnering with us? Take a look at our saving check form. It is free and only takes one or two minutes of your time.

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