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Energy consumption in e-commerce versus conventional trade channels - Insights into packaging, the last mile, unsold products and product returns

Pålsson, Henrik LU ; Pettersson, Fredrik LU and Winslott Hiselius, Lena LU (2017) In Journal of Cleaner Production 164. p.765-778
Abstract

The purpose is to analyse and explain factors determining whether conventional trade with stores or e-commerce with home delivery is more energy-efficient. The findings from previous studies are compared in order to identify more general patterns of energy consumption, describe which energy consumption factors (product waste and product returns, buildings, packaging, passenger transport and freight transport) are considered and what assumptions are made. In this comparison, we analyse product characteristics and product classes, discuss the energy factors with the greatest impact and the contextual impact of each factor on the energy consumption. The paper is based on a structured literature review and a content analysis, which helped... (More)

The purpose is to analyse and explain factors determining whether conventional trade with stores or e-commerce with home delivery is more energy-efficient. The findings from previous studies are compared in order to identify more general patterns of energy consumption, describe which energy consumption factors (product waste and product returns, buildings, packaging, passenger transport and freight transport) are considered and what assumptions are made. In this comparison, we analyse product characteristics and product classes, discuss the energy factors with the greatest impact and the contextual impact of each factor on the energy consumption. The paper is based on a structured literature review and a content analysis, which helped us to synthesise current knowledge and explain consistent and inconsistent findings across individual studies of energy consumption in conventional sales channels versus e-commerce channels. Our literature search identified 11 studies, with 16 cases, that compared the energy efficiency. The results show the following: 1) The net effect of energy consumption was in the majority of the cases positive for the e-commerce channel, 2) The proportion of unsold products and product returns seem to have a major impact on the energy efficiency of different sales channels, 3) Buildings had only a minor effect on the energy consumption difference. It was slightly lower in the home delivery systems, 4) Packaging contributed considerably to the energy consumption difference for some products. The e-commerce channel consumed generally more energy from packaging, but indirect effects (e.g. volume efficiency) were not considered, and 5) The total energy consumption from transportation was greater in the conventional supply chains, as the additional energy in passenger transport generally outweighed the increased energy in freight transport in e-commerce. The paper points out directions for future research and discusses implications for research, policy-making and practice.

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
E-commerce, Energy, Last mile, Packaging, Product waste, Supply chain
in
Journal of Cleaner Production
volume
164
pages
14 pages
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • scopus:85027455623
  • wos:000409290700072
ISSN
0959-6526
DOI
10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.06.242
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
31b5a373-5d24-49fa-aef2-c3656031b780
date added to LUP
2017-09-06 10:50:12
date last changed
2018-01-16 13:25:05
@article{31b5a373-5d24-49fa-aef2-c3656031b780,
  abstract     = {<p>The purpose is to analyse and explain factors determining whether conventional trade with stores or e-commerce with home delivery is more energy-efficient. The findings from previous studies are compared in order to identify more general patterns of energy consumption, describe which energy consumption factors (product waste and product returns, buildings, packaging, passenger transport and freight transport) are considered and what assumptions are made. In this comparison, we analyse product characteristics and product classes, discuss the energy factors with the greatest impact and the contextual impact of each factor on the energy consumption. The paper is based on a structured literature review and a content analysis, which helped us to synthesise current knowledge and explain consistent and inconsistent findings across individual studies of energy consumption in conventional sales channels versus e-commerce channels. Our literature search identified 11 studies, with 16 cases, that compared the energy efficiency. The results show the following: 1) The net effect of energy consumption was in the majority of the cases positive for the e-commerce channel, 2) The proportion of unsold products and product returns seem to have a major impact on the energy efficiency of different sales channels, 3) Buildings had only a minor effect on the energy consumption difference. It was slightly lower in the home delivery systems, 4) Packaging contributed considerably to the energy consumption difference for some products. The e-commerce channel consumed generally more energy from packaging, but indirect effects (e.g. volume efficiency) were not considered, and 5) The total energy consumption from transportation was greater in the conventional supply chains, as the additional energy in passenger transport generally outweighed the increased energy in freight transport in e-commerce. The paper points out directions for future research and discusses implications for research, policy-making and practice.</p>},
  author       = {Pålsson, Henrik and Pettersson, Fredrik and Winslott Hiselius, Lena},
  issn         = {0959-6526},
  keyword      = {E-commerce,Energy,Last mile,Packaging,Product waste,Supply chain},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {10},
  pages        = {765--778},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Journal of Cleaner Production},
  title        = {Energy consumption in e-commerce versus conventional trade channels - Insights into packaging, the last mile, unsold products and product returns},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.06.242},
  volume       = {164},
  year         = {2017},
}