The World Economic Forum (WEF) says that within 2030, E-commerce will grow to generate $2 trillion more in revenue. If this sounds amazing, it is essential to note that this will require a tremendous increase in supporting logistics and infrastructure (warehouses, cold storage, etc.). The increased income will come with 0.5 gigatons of estimated carbon emissions. These projections present a serious warning, so what can businesses, especially those in the retail industry, do to strike a balance between creating profit and not damaging the planet?
TRANSFORM RETAIL STORES INTO DISTRIBUTION CENTERS
The WEF also states that there are approximately 20 million retail stores worldwide; this means that roughly every 350 people are served by one store. For this reason, the forum recommends that retailers become distribution centers due to their high physical proximity to people. As e-commerce grows, more storage and logistics infrastructure will be needed. Retailers can serve these roles by turning themselves into warehouses, cold storage facilities, and even distribution nodes to support the coming e-commerce shift. In this foreseeable future, as people shop less in physical stores and more online, retailers' roles and contributions to consumers will inevitably decline. Therefore, their transformation into infrastructure systems for e-commerce is a natural and logical chain of events that should be promoted. If this happens, the projected 0.5 gigatons of carbon emission will remain just that—a projection.
EFFICIENCY IS KEY
Logistical technology is a growing discipline. Due to the myriad of problems facing our supply chain nowadays, technology is being used more to solve bottlenecks and increase efficiency. In support of the plan to prevent the dreaded 0.5 gigaton emission, technology can play a crucial role in tandem with the retail industry. A WEF analysis notes that IoT, cloud computing, and big data can be utilized to find the optimal delivery pattern that saves energy and serves the highest number of customers. Apart from that, with the introduction of even more energy-efficient logistics vehicles, the future of commerce can rely on clean and efficient delivery that brings goods to people without taking much of a toll on the environment.
Commercial activities are the key to a better economy; however, economic betterment could come at the cost of ecological disasters. Therefore, as key players in this fight for the future of commerce, retailers must explore ways to adapt themselves to fit the changing context of customers and, most importantly, the world’s environment.
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