This article is provided by BRC Associate Member nShift.


Sustainable shipping strategies help retailers engage values-conscious customers and help with reporting, says Johan Hellman, VP Product and Carrier at nShift.

Some four out of five shoppers claim to buy from brands with a positive approach to the environment.[1]  They expect the brands and retailers they spend money on to reflect their values.  What’s more, pressure is growing on multichannel and ecommerce retailers to both track their carbon emissions and show how they intend to reduce them.

Consumers, too, are less likely to be swayed by sustainability claims which appear “too good to be true”.  In fact, almost half (49%) of people believe that too many brands align with good causes simply as a publicity stunt.[2]  So while attempts to demonstrate eco credentials to consumers can strengthen bonds of loyalty, they can also backfire.

Shaping a sustainable shipping strategy

But retailers must pay far more than lip service to the environment.  Multichannel and ecommerce retailers must implement strategies that show real, verifiable progress towards net zero. Reducing emissions from shipping and deliveries can have a significant impact on retailers’ overall carbon footprints.

Here are four steps retailers can follow to develop sustainable shipping strategies which enable the reductions customers and regulators increasingly demand.

  • Step 1: measure emissions from transportation and deliveries – any attempts to lower emissions must be informed by real data. Before deciding how to go about becoming more sustainable, retailers and warehouses must have a clear handle on the status quo. This means obtaining an accurate read on current emissions across the business

  • Step 2: create emissions-reduction strategies – once they are aware of their current emissions, retailers can set realistic targets and identify quick wins. Ideas to meet that target could include offering more sustainable delivery options at checkout, and making greater use of low- and zero-emissions carriers

  • Step 3: review progress and adapt as necessary – it’s crucial to check that strategies are delivering. Rather than compiling emissions data once a year during reporting season, the right emissions tracking tools can monitor emissions in real time.  That enables retailers to track their progress and adjust emissions-reduction strategies in response to real world conditions

  • Step 4: share the success – as the strategies begin to bear fruit, retailers will want to share good news about their progress with customers. Trustworthy data on emissions reductions will stand up to scrutiny, and prove to shoppers that the retailer shares their values

Tracking supply chain emissions

The key to sustainable shipping is the ability to compile trustworthy data on carbon emissions in the last mile – using it as the basis for planning and reporting.

nShift has recently launched Emissions Tracker, which will help retailers and warehouses calculate, record, and analyse greenhouse gas emissions for every shipment.  It enables companies to comply with environmental reporting requirements and helps them pinpoint opportunities for emissions reduction.

By tracking emissions at the shipment level, the tool provides accurate information that conforms to industry standards. Insights are easily available through a single portal, eliminating the need to access multiple systems and reports from different carriers.

What is more, the solution enables businesses to make data-driven decisions about their sustainability practices, satisfy disclosure rules, and demonstrate their improvements to stakeholders and customers.

Emissions disclosure rules tightening in 2024

Consumers want to see that the people they buy from are growing more sustainable.  But regulators are just as eager to discover what progress companies are making.  Indeed, reporting on carbon emissions will soon be a matter of law for companies that export to the European Union (EU).

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) will take full effect in mid-2024.  Among other measures, the legislation will require some 50,000 companies doing business within the EU to report on their past and present greenhouse gas emissions.

CSRD is among a number of increasingly stringent requirements issues by global regulators which compel businesses to report on their environmental footprint.  This creates more visibility around a company’s record on sustainability and can affect its relationship with its consumers.

The retail sector has long been at the forefront of the drive for sustainability.  But as customers become more discerning, and regulations become tighter, there’s no scope to stand still.  By implementing sustainable shipping strategies, logistics can help the business minimise its supply chain emissions.

Find out more about how nShift can help retailers grow more sustainable and manage complex reporting requirements.​