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Improving the transport effectiveness and environmental footprint of clothing returns

Research project
Active research
Project size
4 868 473 SEK
Project period
2020 - 2022
Project owner
Centre for Retailing, Department of Business Administration, School of Business, Economics and Law

Short description

The aim of this project is to improve the transport efficiency of the returns process by determining the reasons why consumers of online clothing in Sweden make returns and how they travel whilst making returns and, based on the findings, to suggest effective transport-minimizing returns policies.

Our previous EM project report (Cullinane et al, 2019) outlined that clothing returns from online shopping in Sweden are high, often 40%, and are increasing over time. Returns equals transport movements by people, vans and trucks, all of which impact negatively on energy use and the environment. As online shopping increases along with of omni-channel shopping, returns and their environmental impacts will increase, unless measures are adopted to mitigate them.  We previously found that environmental sustainability could be improved by a combination of reducing the number of returns and improving the efficiency of the returns process; both of which would reduce the need for transport. 

Aim

The aim of this project is to improve the transport effectiveness of the returns process by determining the reasons why consumers of online clothing in Sweden make returns and how they travel in the course of making returns and, based on the findings, to suggest effective transport-minimizing returns policies .

Objectives

  1. To determine the relationship between returns and socio-demographic variables, e-customers value orientation and personality.
  2. To investigate the effect of different selected return policies on the interrelationship between sales and returns.
  3. Based on the results of objectives 1 and 2, to calculate the differential transport and environmental impacts of selected returns policies.
  4. To calculate the environmental impacts of current travel patterns relating to returns.
  5. To determine the relationship between travel patterns and the various returns collection methods and calculate the differential environmental impacts of each
  6. Based on the findings from objectives 1-5 above, to suggest ways to minimize the transport required and thus the environmental impact of the overall returns process.

Media coverage

Returskammen - de dolda utsläppen
Yle, 8 mars 2021

De returnerade plaggens långa resa
Svenska Yle , 8 mars 2021

How to make your online shopping less of an environmental or carbon footprint mess 
CBS Radio, December 13 2020

Satellite images show online shopping’s growing footprint 
The Verge, November 25 2020